Police scanners will soon go quiet - News - Journal Star - Peoria, IL
Police scanners will soon go quiet
Test continue before switch to a multimillion-dollar public safety digital radio system emailprint 1
By Matt Buedel of the Journal Star
Posted Jun. 20, 2014 @ 10:26 pm
PEORIA — Police scanner listeners may have heard the harbinger of a new digital radio system over the current analog network this week.
Tests conducted over conventional channels will continue into next week as the Peoria County Emergency Telephone System Board (ETSB) fine tunes a multimillion-dollar digital radio system expected to go live around Labor Day.
“This is the biggest change in public safety radio communications in 35 to 40 years,” said Peoria City/County 911 Dispatch Director David Tuttle.
The new digital system will operate at different frequencies using talk groups that shuffle communications over a spectrum of airwaves, rather than remaining on a single channel. The system allows far more flexibility for emergency responders, but also will require the latest and most expensive scanners for citizens to listen.
“I believe there’s going to be thousands of people who are going to be surprised in 90 days or so when their scanners go quiet,” Tuttle said.
While the ETSB is configuring the system to be able to communicate with the currently used channels, many will be abandoned after Peoria County emergency response agencies transition to the new network.
The ETSB will test the system for a full 30 days with Harris Corp., which built the infrastructure, before committing to it and activating agencies throughout the county.
“As long as the 30-day burn-in goes well and we accept the system, we’ll start switching people over, probably near the end of August,” Tuttle said. “You want to find the issues now before you turn the system over to public safety operations.”
Matt Buedel can be reached at 686-3154 or firstname.lastname@example.org
. Follow him on Twitter @JournoBuedel.