Encrypted Radios Due Lawmen June 1st
In December 2016, Eastland County Dispatch Administrator and District Attorney Investigator Kenneth Preston applied for and received a radio grant through the West Central Texas Council of Governments that would allow law enforcement officials in the county to begin communicating on secured frequencies. The grant provided 31 new Kenwood mobile radios and 8 new Kenwood hand held radios to be distributed to the law enforcement agencies in Eastland County. These new radios will replace older radios that have been in use for approximately 10 years. Because of their encryption abilities, the new radios will also provide police officers with a means to communicate more effectively with each other, as well as Eastland Dispatch Center. Encryption means that typical radio scanners will no longer have the ability to monitor a majority of the police calls for service or the radio discussions between the officers. In addition, the dispatch center and all of the police radios will soon begin to use digital frequency, which provides a more clear and crisp reception versus the standard monologue that is in place at present time. The total value of this grant is $53,845.40. New mobile radios at the time of purchase will cost the buyer approximately $1,400.00 per unit including programming and installation.
Due to the fact that there are more than 31 radios in service, this allotment of radios fell short of fulfilling the needs of the county law men and women, however, several partners have joined the mission. 91st Criminal District Attorney Russ Thomason has committed more than $20,000 from drug seizures, which is money taken from defendants engaged in criminal activity, and will help offset costs for this project. Mr. Thomason was partnered by Cisco City Manager Darwin Archer and Eastland City Manager Ron Duncan who also monetarily contributed to allow for nearly every radio used by police in the county to be capable of operating on the new system. This involved installing a chip in each radio to make it compatible. The Texas Department of Public Safety will also have their radios made compatible so that they can continue to use dispatch and speak with local units. The old radios that were taken out of service will be used to upgrade the radios in public utility vehicles or fire departments as needed. Mr. Thomason stated “this has been put into place in order to provide a more secure work environment for our law enforcement officers who are at substantial risk if they encounter a situation in which their communications have been intercepted though scanner networks.” A special thanks to Judge Rex Fields and the West central Texas Council of Governments for helping to facilitate these upgrades, and to Sheriff Wayne Bradford for use of his facilities to do most of the installations.
This process is expected to be fully established by June 1, 2017.