|BG police upgrade radios|
|Written by PETER KUEBECK Sentinel Staff Writer|
|Wednesday, 20 June 2012 10:32|
The Bowling Green Police Division has switched to a new digital platform for their radios. While the move improves the quality of their transmissions, it could make it more difficult for the average citizen to get a grasp of police activity via radio.
"We've actually been involved in this process, it goes back several years," said Lt. Brad Biller, "but we actually ended up in the budget process for it last fall."
The Police Division has changed its radios from an analog VHF (Very High Frequency) platform to a digital VHF platform and purchased the necessary equipment.
The move is actually part of a citywide step towards digital transmissions. Both the police and Bowling Green Fire Division switched over on Monday and are the first two city departments to go digital.
The reason for the move was twofold. First, "over the years we've experienced what I would consider significant degradation in the quality of our radio transmissions, both to and from dispatch to the officers." The Fire Division had experienced similar issues, and better coverage is anticipated with the new digital equipment.
Also, there are new federal requirements that a number of frequencies be "narrow-banded" by January of 2013, meaning that what the divisions are broadcasting has to be cut from a bandwidth of 25 megahertz to 12.5. This move is a means to fulfill that mandate.
Biller noted that two months ago all portable radios used by officers were exchanged for new ones that would work on the digital platform, and all mobile radios in the patrol cars were swapped out as well.
A piece of equipment called a repeater was installed Monday, enabling the first use of the digital platform.
The radio equipment that was taken off-line for the conversion will be reprogrammed and put into use by other city departments and divisions.
However, those residents with normal police band scanners and radios may not be able to pick up the new digital frequency.
"It's receivable," Biller said. "The digital platform has a higher level of privacy, it's not as easy or as broad for people to be able to decipher. There's a level of technology that provides that digital package that goes out. It's a lot more difficult to grasp or get a hold of or decipher than would be that analog signal."
A representative from Radio Shack indicated that the new digital frequency could be picked up, but not by the traditional analog scanners most in use.
A digital trunking scanner would most likely be the unit needed, costing between $300 and $400.
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