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Board approves upgrades to dated police equipment

By Linwood Outlaw III - loutlaw@nvdaily.com

FRONT ROYAL -- The Warren County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved the purchase of modern equipment that officials say will help operations at the county's new public safety building run more efficiently.

At the request of Warren County Sheriff Daniel T. McEathron, the supervisors unanimously voted at their regular meeting Tuesday morning to renew the county's Statewide Agencies Radio System contract and purchase five new workstation consoles, five radio dispatch consoles, a recording system, a net clock, an additional low-band radio frequency channel and equipment, and a monopole tower for $734,854, a figure that will also cover the cost of moving current fire and rescue radio equipment to the 44,370-square-foot facility being built on Skyline Vista Drive.

Some equipment currently being used by the Sheriff's Office is at least five years old, and the state-of-the-art resources being sought for the E-911 communications division are more suitable for the new public safety building that officials hope to have completed by the end of next year, McEathron said.

The STARS contract, if signed by the end of this month, would give officials a year to make the necessary purchases and may reduce costs for the equipment by about 20 percent. It will also save time and alleviate costs involved with obtaining consultants and preparing requests for proposals for the needed items.

Officials want to move the Sheriff's Office's current low-band interface and purchase another one for second-channel capabilities, which would help dispatchers communicate more effectively with law enforcement personnel and talk with multiple people at a time.
Currently, the department has only one transmit, and if a dispatcher is using the State Interdepartmental Radio System to communicate with another jurisdiction, the other dispatcher is unable to answer a law enforcement officer on the county's low-band radio until the first transmission is complete, McEathron said.

The new recording system will register up to 28 channels of incoming and outgoing radio traffic, 911 calls, and administrative lines throughout the building, McEathron said.

The new workstation consoles will be able to withstand a decade or more of use "in the rigorous environments of emergency-response centers" on a 24-hour basis seven days a week, McEathron states in the memo. McEathron said the new consoles will also give employees more flexibility to either sit, stand or be elevated at their discretion during their shifts.

Funding for the equipment and furniture was previously factored in with the overall $15,252,444 cost estimate for the new public safety building, which is being funded through a combination of cash the county received as part of switching to a twice-a-year billing format for taxes and leftover money from the Warren County Middle School renovation project.
The new facility will house the Sheriff's Office and Department of Fire and Rescue Services, and it will particularly give the sheriff's department more space than its current building on East Jackson Street, which officials have said is too small.
Officials broke ground on the new facility in September. Construction of the building pad should be completed within the next week, and the contractor has also started on footers for the building, County Administrator Douglas P. Stanley said.

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