New radios to cost $65K+

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 10, 2015

It could cost Covington County more than $65,000, plus an additional $500 per month investment, to catch up with the proverbial Joneses.

The county heard a presentation in a Wednesday morning workshop meeting from SPC Communication of Opp about converting the sheriff’s department’s radio equipment from analog to digital.

Already, the Andalusia Police Department, as well as sheriff’s departments in surrounding counties, have upgraded radio equipment.

“Right now, if the sheriff’s department goes to assist the APD, they cannot talk to them,” SPC owner Jay Spurlin said. “If they provide mutual aid to Geneva County, they cannot talk to them. If they go to Coffee County, they cannot talk to them.”

At present, the county uses analog radios and towers it owns and maintains. It pays approximately $500 per month for the use of a tower at Hilltop.

SPC proposed purchasing new mobile and handheld radios at an estimated cost of $65,425. SPC would maintain the tower needed at a cost to the county of $1,000 per month.

The county also could acquire new radios in a lease/purchase plan that would cost $69,048 if expensed over 24 months, and $70,848 if expensed over 36 months.

The proposed system would allow officers to speak person-to-person in private conversations – similar to the service provided by Southern Links, or to set up user groups. At present, communication on this system cannot be monitored by traditional police scanners.

The proposal included radios for Covington County EMS, and for the sheriff’s posse, reserve, and jail vehicles.

Commissioner chairman Bill Godwin asked for an estimation of what expenses can be eliminated if the county moves ahead with the upgrade. Sheriff Dennis Meeks said there is a possibility some of the Southern Lincs used by his department would no longer be needed.