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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Platte and Clay County sheriffs awarded $660,000 grant

  • The Department of Justice Community Oriented Policing Services Office has awarded a federal grant in the amount of $660,000 to the Clay and Platte County sheriffs. The grant will help upgrade the public safety radio systems in both counties.


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  • The Department of Justice Community Oriented Policing Services Office has awarded a federal grant in the amount of $660,000 to the Clay and Platte County sheriffs. The grant will help upgrade the public safety radio systems in both counties.
    Facing an unfunded federal mandate requiring that police radio systems be converted to 12.5 kHz bandwidth by January 1, 2013, the Clay County Sheriff’s Office and Platte County Sheriff's Office are in jeopardy of losing their law enforcement communication systems.
    “This is a critical public safety issue,” said Clay County Sheriff Bob Boydston. “If either of our counties loses their communication systems we will be unable to communicate with our deputies in the field and all other public safety agencies, including the municipalities we dispatch for.”
    For decades all of Clay and Platte County sheriffs’ public safety radio systems have been licensed by the Federal Communications Commission to operate at 25.0 KHz. Those licenses will expire at the end of 2012 with new licenses issued for operation at the narrower bandwidth of 12.5 KHz. The FCC has also indicated that law enforcement should anticipate another mandate for additional narrow banding in the future.
    “All of our communication equipment must be replaced or reprogrammed to operate at the new bandwidth,” said Clay County Emergency Management Director Dave Rogers. “The cost for the replacement of older equipment and reprogramming of newer equipment to meet the first mandate could run as much as $1 million dollars or more for both counties.”
    Several years ago, the sheriffs of Clay and Platte county joined forces to seek the best solution and funding to the challenge of providing law enforcement communications when the new licenses are issued. They identified joining the developing 700/800 MHz Regional Public Safety system as the best alternative today and in the future.
    “Eventually the regional system will provide public safety communication service to the entire Kansas City metropolitan area,” said Platte County Emergency Services Division Captain Mark Owen. “When it is fully developed the system will allow public safety personnel to communicate anywhere in the KC metro area and to all other member agencies, including fire and rescue personnel.”
    Currently, Kansas City, Mo., Independence, Mo., and Johnson County, Kan., have developed infrastructure to support the system in their jurisdictions. Cost estimates for the infrastructure needed to expand the system throughout the entire Northland are estimated in excess of $19 million dollars.
    “The FCC did not provide funding to meet its mandates,” said Rogers. “So we worked with the Platte County Sheriff’s Office to obtain federal funding to develop the Northland infrastructure for the regional system.”
    In 2010, the sheriff’s offices of Clay and Platte counties were notified of a congressional appropriation of $660,000 that could be applied for through the COPS Technology Program. The appropriation was made in response to their joint efforts to join the regional system; however, it did not provide sufficient funding to build the required infrastructure. Clay and Platte County Sheriff’s Offices developed an alternate plan that would provide the ability to meet the 2010 FCC licensing requirements and begin migration to the Regional 700/800 MHz Public Safety system. Complete migration will require additional time and funding.
    Page 2 of 2 - Using the alternate plan, funding was applied for and awarded through the COPS Technology Grant. The actual award of $660,000 will be split equally between the two counties. The Clay County Sheriff’s Office has been designated as the administrator of the grant.

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