The Ottumwa Courier

Wapello County

June 26, 2013

Switch to digital leaves some police scanners in the dust


Police scanners that can handle P25 digital decoding cost upwards of $300 and as much as $700.

With the installation of the new communications tower on Ottumwa Street, 14 agencies will be secured to the tower with 18 attachments.

While 12 of the agencies are moving their communications equipment from atop St. Joseph Hospital to the new tower, they will remain analog as they are today, he said.

"We needed a new location because St. Joe's Hospital is going to be torn down, so it made sense for us to group some of those agencies together and pick a spot that's great for everyone, that will have back-up power at one location so we don't have multiple generators," he said.

The agencies that will soon be connected to the new tower include the OPD, Wapello County Sheriff's Office, ORMICS, Wapello County secondary roads, Ottumwa Fire Department, county fire (which pages Blakesburg and Agency Fire Departments), Wapello County engineer's office, amateur radio (part of the county's contingency plan for communications), Eldon Fire Department, a medical link toward Eldon, communications with the Iowa State Patrol and mutual aid and a microwave link.

The microwave link will connect dispatch to the tower.

"Right now we use ... phone lines that don't have a dial tone but have a continuing monthly cost, kind of like buying a land line for a telephone, but this is very expensive and has multiple sets all consolidated into a microwave link," he said.

The tower will also hold back-up attachments unassigned to a specific agency. If something were to happen to another agency's equipment, they could switch to the back-up attachments.

— To follow reporter Chelsea Davis on Twitter, head to @ChelseaLeeDavis.

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