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Worth County Sheriff's Office Launches New $2.5 Million Communication System

December 06, 2018 10:27 PM

(ABC 6 News) -- After more than a year and a half of planning and preparing, the Worth County Sheriff's Office this week flipped the switch on a brand new emergency communication and dispatch system designed to increase clarity and interoperability between agencies.

The system went live at 8 a.m. Monday and has already faced one significant test during a call on Tuesday, Worth County Sheriff Dan Fank said.

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"We're new to it, so there's still a learning curve," he said. 

Right away, dispatchers and deputies noticed a clearer signal, making it easier to understand each other and speeding up communication, Fank said.

Another key benefit is increased reliability, sheriff's office communication supervisor Marilyn Stayner said.

"Our old system was outdated and going down bad so we needed something new," she said. "And the state has now put up towers, they call it a land mobile radio system, and we connected to it here, we're one of the first in northern Iowa."

Sheriff Fank said the county acquired a tower from the FCC and put up another to improve the signal across the county.

Much of the system's $2.5 million cost was covered by a grant from the Worth County Development Authority, with the sheriff's office pitching in a portion. Worth County is one of the first counties in northern Iowa to jump on the statewide system, and already at least one neighboring county's sheriff has called asking about how the launch went, Fank said.

The new system also makes it easier for agencies to communicate with each other across county and state lines, and block each other out when there are multiple situations happening at the same time and radio traffic could get confusing.

"We can put like fire and law, we can put them all on one channel and have them do their situation and then we have another one come up and we can go ahead and create another situation and put them on their own channel," Stayner said.

Fank said he hopes it the system will also help with communication with Freeborn and Mower Counties in Minnesota, which is especially important for counties like Worth that straddle the state line.

What's more, he said they've barely scratched the surface with the capabilities of the system, future-proofing the department for the foreseeable future.

"We're only using a small percentage of what this is capable of doing. Eventually, we'll have more training to even enhance more and more which will give us better service out there to our public and give us better response time and communication time," Fank said.

KAAL-TV

Copyright 2018 - KAAL-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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