Lauderdale County Goes Digital

The Lauderdale County Board of Supervisors Monday approved a request to purchase more than 400 new digital radios for volunteer firefighters.

This is just the most recent effort to help local emergency responders meet new FCC regulations. It will mean, however, you won't be able to hear county officers on the scanner anymore.

The same newer model has already been in use by deputies.

To meet FCC requirements, emergency responders within the county are upgrading their communication systems as well.

"We actually started the process four or five years ago while upgrading LEMA's communications, and in the process, found out that narrow (band) compliance was required in 2013 and digital compliance in 2017," said David Sharp, emergency management director.

By meeting that digital requirement now, fire coordinator Allan Dover says the county is saving money.

"Just to go to a narrow band, we were going to have to buy all new radios, basically, at the same price that we're buying them for right now," said Dover. "And we're even going one step further by going digital, which entails having cleaner frequencies and less static."

These are things which Dover and other officials say will ultimately improve the safety of emergency responders and residents at large.

"In the past, at Southeast school, we weren't able to talk on campus with our old hand-held units," said Sheriff Billy Sollie. "And now we're able to talk across the county. That is a tremendous difference for those deputies who make a traffic stop at 2 a.m."

Ultimately, employees and volunteers with Lauderdale County's Emergency Management, Metro Ambulance, the sheriff's department and volunteer firefighters will all use the new digital radios.

Supervisors approved the purchase of 347 portable hand-held digital radios and 67 mobile ones for volunteer firefighters. These will cost $366,000. The new radios are expected to arrive sometime early this spring.


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  • by Radio Two Location: local on Feb 10, 2012 at 12:10 PM
    Just not enough facts on the table. you're buying radios for the FD but what about the tower transmitter. Who owns it? Is it licensed to L'dale County or to a for profit business? Put all the facts out in the open not just the ones that sound good. What is the total cost over the life of the system?
  • by Radio Location: Local on Feb 8, 2012 at 05:25 PM
    I stand corrected. There is a requirement to go digital in 2017. It applies to the statewide 700mhz system, however this is a mote point because all the repeaters and radios that are available are digital. However the system that L'dale county is moving to has NO requirement to be a digitial system.
  • by lc Location: lauderdale county on Feb 8, 2012 at 08:53 AM
    with todays technology people all across the world have been listening to the radio transmitions made in lauderdale county. that means that all of your personal information is being heard by people that are stealing your identities. i think its more important to keep our private information private than to have all this information spread all over the world. if you get your weather info from a scanner just go get a weather radio. that problem is solved. using cell phones for sensitive info is not good either. the fire and law enforcement needs to give the information to multiple individuals at one time. and on another note do the tax payers of lauderdale county want to pay for a cell phone for every law enforcement officer, every volunteer fireman, emergency responder, etc?? i think not. one more thing, if all you have to do all day and night is to sit around and listen to a scanner, go find a job or something productive to do. the red cross and loves kitchen needs help every day. really? how many of you want the criminals to get away because they were listening to a scanner and knew that law enforcement was coming to get them?? You all need to think this through a little more careful. you could take the money that you were going to spend on a new scanner and donate it. that would be more useful. BTW there are requirements for going digital on certain frequencies in 2017. look it up.
    • reply
      by RR on Feb 8, 2012 at 06:31 PM in reply to lc
      I doubt people across the world are listening to scanner frequencies in Laud.Co. My scanner does have the weather band on it which is useless in the middle of a storm.The volunteer fire depts. are out giving up to the minute reports about storm locations and where trees are down etc.If I am not mistaken most law enforcement officers use their personal cell phones any way to discuss certain info off of the air.And no I don't sit and listen to a scanner all day I work 45 hours a week and have a scanner at work and a scanner at home.Maybe you should think the situation through and realize the benefits of law abiding citizens being able to be an extra set of eyes and ears for the police.Perhaps you could donate some of your time and money to the red cross loves kitchen etc. If more law abiding citizens would listen to a scanner there would a much better chance of catching the criminals.
  • by Alan Tilles Location: Potomac, MD on Feb 8, 2012 at 06:46 AM
    There is some level of misinformation in this story. First, it is true that all VHF and UHF Part 90 radio users must "narrowband" their radio systems by the end of 2012. In this case, narrowband means that the bandwidth of the channel is no more than 12.5 kHz (with some exceptions). However, there is NO requirement at any time that such operations be digital, narrowband analog radios are readily available (for the past 10 years at least) and perfectly acceptable. Now, there may be lots of good reasons in this case to go digital (i.e. interoperability, recovery of coverage area lost because of narrowbanding, a condition of a federal grant, etc.), but there is no FCC REQUIREMENT that narrowbanding go to digital communications at VHF or UHF by ANY date. For more information, see www.narrowbandinglaw.com.
  • by RR Location: lauderdale county on Feb 8, 2012 at 04:44 AM
    I have listened to a scanner for many years and have come to depend on it when the weather gets bad.I found the lauderdale county fire channel to be very informative as to where the storm is and what action to take.WTOK is really great during bad weather,But during power outages I really depend on the scanner.There are many citizens that listen to law enforcement on a scanner and actually help the police catch a criminal.I think they need to keep the frequencies where the public can be informed.And use their cell phones for sensitive information that they aren't ready to release yet.
    • reply
      by LEO on Feb 16, 2012 at 04:04 PM in reply to RR
      I disagree. This will be good for your officers in Lauderdale County. There is nothing more annoying for a law enforcement officer than working a bad wreck or have an event going on and people coming by to "rubberneck" because they heard it on the scanner. There is nothing worse than to be working a call only to go inside the home and hear the squawk of a scanner inside and know that everyone inside knows what you know ie. people with warrants, priors and all the communication that took place on the way. I have never worked a call where someone listening to a scanner helped in any way. If you are going to pay for radios and all the equipment it seems silly to ask officers to stop and pick up the phone to convey certain types of information when they have a radio attached to their shirt, especially just so "billy bob" can keep listening to the weather and keep up with the latest "action".
  • by Anonymous Location: Meridian on Feb 7, 2012 at 07:24 PM
    You can buy a digital scanner but it is coded many many times so good luck on hearing it.
  • by I know Radio Location: Zero on Feb 7, 2012 at 07:23 PM
    Radio: Look Closer
  • by Radio Location: Local on Feb 7, 2012 at 06:21 AM
    Just checked FCC website for NarrowBanding there is NO requirement or mandate in 2017 to go digital. Why the misinformation?
  • by Stan Location: Stonewall on Feb 7, 2012 at 05:43 AM
    Another "Benefit" of switching to digital radios is the public can't listen in on scanners to see what is going on around them...this is wrong. Talk is police and fire will scramble calls so we can't hear ...at least until somebody breaks the code..We pay for the radios and everything else they use.
  • by Incorrect on Feb 6, 2012 at 08:28 PM
    It is already currently available for the public to purchase digital scanners capable of scanning these new frequencies. It just means a new purchase to hear what is really going on in meridian and lauderdale county.
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