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State College Police Receive New Emergency Radios in Time for State Patty's Day

by on February 28, 2014 3:36 PM

The switch from an obsolete analog emergency radio system to a digital system with better coverage is now complete for State College area law enforcement, just in time for emergency responders to use during State Patty's Day.

State College Police Chief Thomas King says the radios will enhance officer safety as the new gear blocks out any background noise, which ensures clear communication the first time.

"We're very pleased with the clarity of the radios, particularly, enunciation and hearing what's being said but there's also no background noise whatsoever," King says. "It also helps dispatch hear us when we're in a crowd, maybe outside a bar downtown, canceling all background noise around us."

State Patty's Day, a student-created event that promotes binge drinking, is Saturday. Started in 2007, the event is known for the mayhem it creates in State College. From public drunkenness to vandalism to sexual assaults to alcohol poisoning, the event keeps local first responders busy.

Centre County officials were able to meet its goal to implement a new 911 radio system for police in State College Borough, Penn State University, Patton Township, Ferguson Township, Spring Township and Bellefonte Borough by March 1 as all of these agencies will work together to respond to any related incidents.

"As of (Thursday) afternoon all police are now cut over to the new system. The process went very well and was completed early and in time for State Patty's Day," says 911 Emergency Communications Director Daniel Tancibok. "This will allow all police to operate on the same radio system for the event, allowing them better inter-communications. It's also the new digital system with significantly better coverage and good clear voice audio."

The radio system is critical as it is the system the 911 Center uses to dispatch police, fire, EMS and public works crews to emergencies in the county. It is also the system emergency responders use to communicate with each other during an emergency.

Officials is gradually implemented the new system throughout the county. Penn State police were operating under the digital system in advance of THON, the massive, on-campus student fundraising dace marathon, which was held last weekend.

The new system creates an easier, more efficient means of communication since all police, EMS, fire and pubic works crews will ultimately be operating on the same radio system allowing for more efficient communication with each other.

Fire and EMS agencies will start joining the new system March 10 followed by public works crews and county agencies.

In October, officials tested Centre County's new 911 radio system and found the system exceeds expectations and will cover a larger portion of the county compared to the current system. The team found that the system failed in non-populated game lands and forested areas.

Four teams covered more than 4,800 grid blocks, each one-half mile by one-half mile using a computer automated system and portable radios to test the system. The teams were able to access more than 3,200 grids, or more than 66 percent.

Officials said the teams covered a statistically sufficient area to verify coverage. The results showed that the system exceeded coverage obligations with Motorola, which is to provide 95 percent of reliability in 90 percent of the county.

As part of the $18 million project, the county installed microwave equipment designed by Motorola at 19 tower sites throughout the county, an increase from 13 under the current system. The tower site shelters were upgraded from wood to precast concrete for security and environmental protection.

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Jennifer Miller is a reporter for StateCollege.com. She has worked in journalism since 2005. She's covered news at the local, state and national level with an emphasis on crime and local government.
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