The county’s new system will switch from analog to digital and will most likely sever all frequencies once received by scanners people have at their homes.
It is illegal for the private sector to have installed scanners in their vehicles; however, a lot of people have scanners at their homes so they can listen to conversations with emergency service agencies, such as police, fire and dispatch.
“There will be new scanners offered that people can purchase, but they are costly,” said captain Stephen Stratton of the Logan County Sheriff’s Department adding, at least for awhile, “scanner land” will cease to exist.
The county purchased the new radio system last year for a little over a half a million dollars. They are waiting to change from the old system to to the new one to make sure every emergency agency in the county has the appropriate radios that will correspond with the new system. Some of those agencies had to apply for grants to pay for the radios.
The new digital radio system was purchased by the county at the request of numerous emergency service agencies, in particular fire departments and police forces, who were experiencing problems communicating with the Emergency Communications Center (ECC/911). It was feared the communication breaks could cause loss of life, especially if a police officer becomes involved in an altercation and could not call for backup.
A close call in Auburn involving fire chief Jeff Gregory put fiscal curt on a fast track to finding a solution to this continuing problem. Gregory got into an alteration with a suspected arsonist who allegedly pulled a gun and fired it twice at Gregory. When the gun failed to fire Gregory ran and tried to contact dispatch on the radio but could not get through.
“If something is not done someone is going to lose their life,” said Gregory at a previous court meeting.
Sheriff Wallace Whittaker says, “scanner land” actually helps the department out when they are looking for suspects. There have been times when people will hear on their scanners when law enforcement are looking for someone and then call in with a tip.