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Emergency services upgrade radios

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POSTED: March 29, 2010 1:51 p.m.
All public safety officers in Bryan County got radio upgrades recently as part of a $4.5 million upgrade to an 800 megahertz digital communication system.
Local police officers, paramedics and firefighters were previously on a VHF system. Kathy Hicks with Bryan County E-911 said the new system is much clearer “and the range is phenomenal.”
The new system has been in place for several months now, and the reviews seem to be good. Hicks said she has received all positive feedback from local agencies.
Richmond Hill Police Chief Billy Reynolds said officers now have 13 or 14 channels compared to just two or three. Some of those channels are encrypted, so those in the public with scanners cannot pick up them up.
The main channels are still available over public airwaves, but only if you give your VHF scanner a 700 to 800 megahertz digital upgrade.
“The clarity is much better,” Reynolds said of the new system. “Before, you couldn’t reach dispatch from some buildings. Not only can you do that now, but you can take this radio and maintain communication as you ride to Pembroke. That’s something you could never do before.”
Hicks said federal grant money covered all but $1.2 million of the $4.5 million upgrade, and the balance was split between county and cities.
The county did not have a choice in the upgrade. It was done to comply with new FCC rules and regulations. In the future, Hicks said all systems must upgrade to an APCO 25 system. Bryan County went ahead and included that in this upgrade, becoming the first county in Georgia to meet the specification.
 

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