Police department will soon need new radios

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This week’s Board of Selectmen meeting will be remembered as Selectman Leon Karvelis’s last meeting on the board before he steps down on Nov. 30. But in other news, it was a busy meeting full of different topics.

In the first item of business, police Chief Doug Fuchs reported on his department’s need for new radios. The radios the department currently uses are reaching the end of their usefulness, and in a few years, they will no longer be serviced or repaired by the company that makes them.

The new radios could be purchased as capital items for fiscal year 2017-18.

The cost of the new radios is projected to run around $1.03 million. The department currently uses Motorola radios.

Because Motorola is the standard-bearer for police radios, Fuchs said, his department would like to keep the company as a supplier.

Redding police use a digital VHF radio system to relay messages to and from dispatch and police cruisers.

Transmit-receive stations are located at the Redding Police Department, the Redding Ridge Fire Department, the Meadow Ridge retirement community in Georgetown, and on a state communication pole at 100 Old Redding Road.

Receive-only stations are located at Putnam Park and the Redding transfer station.

Though the radios used by police are digital, Fuchs told the Board of Selectmen he had never heard of a police radio being “hacked,” and noted his department uses hi-tech encryption whenever broadcasting about something of a sensitive nature.

The FCC prevents the department from broadcasting under encryption at all times, but does allow it in many sensitive situations.

“Our radios are digital and encrypted,” he said in response to a question by Selectman Leon Karvelis. “There are certain standard which they meet, and I’ve never heard of them being hacked. You could program your own radio [and listen to Redding police chatter], but you must know our private [encryption key to access sensitive communication].”

Because VHF technology is good at traveling long distances but performs poorly at infiltrating concrete buildings, Fuchs also proposed the installation of a new receiving or transmit-receive station at the John Read Middle School, where officers have a difficult time making or receiving radio calls when they are inside the school.

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