Sheriff’s office, police prepare to make switch to narrowband

By Monday, the Callaway County Sheriff’s Office will be entirely in compliance with a Federal Communications Commission mandate that all public safety radio systems must make the switch to narrowband channels by Jan. 1, 2013.

“Some of (the narrowband equipment) is already up and running, and the rest will be up by Monday,” Callaway Sheriff Dennis Crane said. “We’re trying to beat the deadline — we didn’t want to be waiting until January first to do it.”

He said the department had to purchase four new radios in order to be able to meet the narrowband requirements, but “the rest were new enough they could reprogram them.”

Maj. Roger Rice said the Fulton Police Department also has been taking steps to make the switch.

“We still have two or three radios that still need to be upgraded, but all of our walkie talkies are compatible,” Rice said, noting the department is looking into grants to help pay for the remaining radios.

He said the federal mandate was put into place because, “the airwaves are filling, and they’re going to narrowband to get more channels.”

Sgt. Jimmy Culbertson gave a more-detailed explanation.

“If you think of notebook paper and you have broad-ruled and narrow-ruled and college-ruled, you’re just squeezing more frequency into the same bandwidth,” Culbertson. “It allows a great deal more bandwidth, and also has some channels set aside for statewide emergencies so agencies can communicate.”

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