O'Fallon, St. Peters consider sharing police radio systems

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shaft

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The article
Departments are in evaluation phase





By Elizabeth Perry
Saturday, April 5, 2008 12:19 PM CDT


The O'Fallon Police Department is considering a partnership with St. Peters police to combine their radio communications systems, which could save both departments money, O'Fallon police Chief Jerry Schulte said.

"It's in the concept phase right now; the theory is you can have one system provide for two cities cheaper," Capt. David Balcom said.

Consultant Keith Whitt, of Trott Communications Group in Irving, Texas, was hired to analyze the communications system."All we've agreed to do is provide information to their consultants, and it would be premature to make any kind of statement right now," St. Peters police Maj. Mike Townsend said.

If the deal goes through, Balcom said both cities would share the existing channels they have; currently, St. Peters has five and O'Fallon has two.

"Basically we would build onto St. Peters' system," Balcom said.

The analog trunking system would allow a computer to divert phone calls to open channels, Balcom said.

O'Fallon also could use the analog signal towers in St. Peters, filling in areas of coverage without paying to put up additional towers.

Currently, the cost of the trunking system isn't known, Balcom said.

The only drawback, Balcom said, would be that O'Fallon would have to share control of the system with St. Peters.

"You have to have that trust between the two agencies," Balcom said.

Schulte said the analog system, which works like a traditional radio, is better than digital because analog signals fade rather than abruptly disappear.

"Digital, you either have it or you don't," Schulte said.

The O'Fallon City Council on Jan. 10 approved the evaluation of the police department's current communication technology because existing equipment was becoming outdated.

In a previous interview, Lt. John Neske estimated the radios are more than 18 years old.

Neske previously said the cost for the evaluation is $21,000, and it could take up to two months to complete.
 

mjthomas59

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Interesting article and good find. I'm surprised to hear that the O'Fallon equipment is 18 years old. It doesn't seem like 800mhz has been all that popular for that long, although perhaps it was.

I just can't imagine, with the nationwide push for digital radios, that O'Fallon would dump money into a system like this. O'Fallon and St. Peters both have over 100 officers each, i would think their would be a traffic jam on the radio waves.

Not to mention O'Fallon is expanding by the day, and in every direction except towards St. Peters.

It will be interesting to see how it all plays out, i just can't see dumping money into an analog system when digital is the "new thing". If anything st. peters and o'fallon need to jump onto St. Charles City. They have digital for the police department, and i'm sure rather soon for fire, and that system comes in booming all the way out in Wentzville. A couple of extra repeaters in the o'fallon and st. peters area would surely provide good coverage.
 

shaft

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I stumbled upon the article by accident today while looking for info on the fatal I heard Friday night.

I have mixed feelings on which system O'Fallon jumps to. I'd like to see the St. Charles digital system expand out our way, but on the other hand Im glad to see that they might be moving to an actual trunking system, even if it is an analog one.

Do you know if Wentzville has any plans on upgrading their VHF stuff over to a trunk sytem in the future?
 

mjthomas59

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Everyone talks about upgrading in one way or another, and Wentzville did, to newer "full feature" motorola radios, unfortunately they aren't digital capable, and are still VHF. I'd have to do a search to see what model they are, i want to say MCS2000, but i could be confusing them with New Melle. I haven't been in a wentzville car in several months, but was out with New Melle about a month ago. New Melle has older digital equipment from the days when they were dispatched by St. Charles County. Off topic but New Melle is getting an additional repeater setup in their area which will be attached to Wentzvilles system. That will allow them to dump their pyramid in-car repeaters and also should provide better coverage for New Melle, as well as parts of Hwy Z and Hopewell Rd.

I personally don't see a move to a trunking system in Wentzville for quite some time. O'Fallon has gotten away with using 2 frequencies for quite some time and they have double the number of officers. Only time the radio gets jammed in Wentzville is when you've got Foristell with 3 officers and New Melle with 2, the number of traffic stops they make would blow your mind.
 
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