SPARTANBURG, SC (WSPA) – Spartanburg police rolled out new radios Monday allowing them to communicate directly with other agencies.
“There’s no substitute for real time exchange of information,” said Spartanburg Police Chief Alonzo Thompson. “And, in our line of work time saves lives. So to be able to hear information direct when it’s occurring is definitely to our benefit.”
Spartanburg Police Chief Alonzo Thompson says their old 460 megahertz radios – the inability to communicate directly with other local agencies like the sheriff’s office e-m-s and fire.
“When you’re on 400 watt system and they’re on 800 megahertz system you can’t talk to one another so you rely on the relay from communications,” said Thompson.
He says officers would tell dispatch what to relay to other agencies which cost valuable time.
He says active shooting calls like one from 2015 are the perfect example.
“There was a call given out for an an active shooter at one of our local colleges just outside the city limits and our officer heard the dispatch and responded,” Thompson recalled. “His arrival there wasn’t relayed immediately when other law enforcement personnel arrived.”
Monday all officers switched to 800 megahertz radios which he says officer better clarity in addition to communication with other local entities.
He says cost was a big part of why this upgrade took so long, because each radio costs over $4,000 in addition to ongoing monthly service costs for 134 officers.
He said about 80 radios were gifted by the State Law Enforcement Division, and others were funded by grant money and the department’s budget.
“Saving lives and protecting property is what we do and this is an enhancement to that effort,” Thompson said.
He says the radios can help protect the public and thanks to a little orange button at the top they can protect officers too.
“If an officer goes down but he or she can have the presence of mind to press this orange button it can send out a signal where we can locate them – again – because of this radio,” said Thompson.
The chief says they’ve been working on getting these radios for a few years now.