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the evaluation of the police department's current communication technology because existing equipment was becoming outdated.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.