Stillwater News Press

January 16, 2013

County law enforcement switches radios

By Russell Hixson
Stillwater NewsPress

STILLWATER, Okla. — The Payne County Sheriff’s Department’s radios all switched to a narrowband frequency in a mere 10 seconds.

The switch allowed the department to comply with a mandate from the Federal Communications Comission.

In an effort to promote greater spectrum efficiency, the FCC required all public safety and industrial/business licensees using 25 kHz VHF and UHF radios systems to switch to a minimum 12.5 kHz efficiency by Jan. 1.

The sheriff’s department slowly prepared for the deadline for two years.

The nationwide change required law enforcement without narrowband capable radios to purchase new equipment. Sheriff’s Capt. Kevin Woodward said the sheriff’s department has spent $13,000 thus far to replace old equipment. A government grant accounted for $9,500 of the expense. The department needs to spend approximately $5,000 more to replace all older systems.

Many departments, Woodward said, have experienced a decrease in range after switching to narrowband. He said Payne County deputies experience reception difficulties in one section of southeastern Payne County.

But other than that, Woodward said there have been no issues in switching from wideband.

Woodward said some counties have experienced difficulty as some smaller departments can’t afford the switch while others are in compliance. This makes it difficult for the the departments to communicate. Woodward said this isn’t the case in Payne County where all departments are operating on narrowband.