County looks at new radio system for sheriff’s office

FRONT ROYAL – Warren County plans to help improve radio communications for its Sheriff’s Office this year.

The Board of Supervisors heard a presentation from Motorola representatives at a work session earlier this week as the county considers spending more than $1.2 million on a new radio system.

The proposed system would allow the Sheriff’s Office to use a VHF frequency band so the law enforcement agency could integrate with the Warren County Department of Fire and Rescue Services system. The proposed system would include new Motorola subscriber radios that provide greater coverage as well as improved audio quality and level of security. The system also would give the Sheriff’s Office direct inter-operability with agencies in Frederick and Clarke counties.

County Administrator Doug Stanley explained Wednesday that the local government can buy the equipment using a state contract. The county would not need to go through a bidding process, Stanley said.

County officials want to move forward with buying the equipment and making the improvements this year, Stanley said. The recently adopted fiscal 2018 budget includes $150,000 the county would spend toward a lease payment for the equipment. Once the county determines the final cost of the equipment, officials would look at how to structure the payments over a five- to 10-year time frame through a lease-purchase agreement, Stanley explained.

The current Sheriff’s Office radio system has reached its “end of life” meaning that parts are no longer manufactured. The 800-megahertz band does not provide adequate coverage throughout the county. The equipment does not provide inter-operability with the Warren County Department of Fire and Rescue Services nor with agencies in Frederick or Clarke counties.

The current radio system does not cover most of the southern portion of the county south of Bentonville with the portable, on-hip devices. The map under the proposed system shows that the new system would fill most of the coverage gaps. The current system also suffers from service gaps for mobile devices. The proposed system would close most gaps for the mobile devices.

Warren County’s Department of Fire and Rescue Services started using the current radio system about eight or nine years ago, Chief Richard Mabie said. The county needed a new system then to address problems the previous equipment had in providing coverage. At that time, the Sheriff’s Office decided to remain with the Front Royal communications center. The county designed its new system to expand so it could allow the Sheriff’s Office to join should the agency choose to do so in the future, Stanley said.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com