The Payette County Sheriff’s Workplace goals to improve an outdated radio system Impartial Enterprise

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PAYETTE – Emergency communications were on the agenda during the regular meeting of the Payette County Board of Commissioners on November 30th, in the form of a request from Lt. Andy Creech of the Payette County Sheriff on improving the radio communications equipment at the Sheriff’s Office. Creech handed the commissioners a package explaining the age of the office equipment.

“I hate to bring this on you now, but I think you do [need to] understand the full need; I think it’s important to understand where our radio infrastructure is, ”Creech said at the meeting.

According to Creech, most of the office equipment needs to be replaced. 91% of the repeaters, 75% of the dispatch base stations, 86% of the mobile radio devices and 90% of the handheld radio devices are considered to be “End of Life”.

“Devices that reach the end of their life are supported for an additional year,” says Creech. “After this time, the manufacturer will stop producing spare parts for these devices. We continued to use these devices and were fortunate enough to keep our radio infrastructure operational given the age of our devices. “

He also noted that only Payette County still uses VHF (very high frequency) technology to communicate with fire departments and older UHF units for communicating with law enforcement agencies that have experienced increasing signal interference and equipment downtime.

“When St. Luke’s Hospital went in [in 2014]They had some devices in their hospital that turned us off for a few hours before we located them and turned them off, ”was an example of such a malfunction mentioned by Creech.

He also noted that the equipment is not compatible with systems from the surrounding counties.

The sheriff’s office is responsible for maintaining this equipment. Creech aims to eventually convert the device to use a 700 MHz digital band with encryption functionality, reserved nationwide for first aiders.

“Between 2010 and 2013 the state of Idaho set up a nationwide interoperable radio communications network,” Creech wrote on December 1 in an email to the newspaper. “At this point, Idaho State grants were available to the State Interoperability Executive Committee (SIEC). This grant funding formed the backbone of the statewide system and enabled several counties to set up equipment within their jurisdiction to join the system. Payette County was not included in this grant opportunity. Payette County’s 911 Operations Board had wanted to join the statewide system for at least seven years. The cost of joining the system has always been a barrier to this. “

Creech is asking the board for help with the migration to the system. This would increase the safety of first responders by allowing fire departments, ambulance services and law enforcement agencies to communicate directly with each other, communicate with other jurisdictions and eliminate problematic radio interference. It would also update our equipment to be more reliable for our first responders, ”Creech wrote.

Creech stated that previous attempts to find outside help for a full system replacement have been largely unsuccessful.

“There are limited funding options for replacing the radio infrastructure,” wrote Creech. “Payette County has used some grant funds from the Idaho Office of Emergency Management to replace handheld radios and base stations. However, there is not enough money available to update the entire system. The Payette County Sheriff’s Office has also had preliminary discussions with vendors about leases. We looked for funding opportunities and couldn’t find any current grants that could help us modernize our radio infrastructure. “

According to Creech, vendors offer replacement devices at the same prices when replacing items one at a time as if the sheriff’s office were doing a top-down replacement.

“The age of our current equipment varies. Most of our repeaters are 15 to 20 years old. The base stations that the dispatch department uses every day are over 20 years old. Most of our cell phones are also 15 to 20 years old. When taking stock of our radios, the majority of the devices are 5 to 10 years after the end of their service life. “

Creech estimated the replacement cost to be $ 1.5 million to $ 2 million and mentioned that the board of directors could potentially raise funds from the CARES Act to cover these costs.

As this was not an action item on Monday’s agenda, no formal action was taken during this meeting.

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