Public safety personnel switched to the new countywide communications system in late January, but they’ve been using portable radios alone while vehicle units were being installed.
Rome police Pfc. Glenn Atkins said new radios now have been mounted in most patrol cars. Sgt. Chris Fincher of the Floyd County Police Department said his agency has had digital car radios since last week.
Fincher said having a second radio in the car is helpful partly because it helps extend the battery life of the portable unit.
Both Atkins and Fincher said they are getting a better reception in their patrol cars than they did under the analog system.
“The reception on them is great and clear, and there is not a lot of backfeed,” said Atkins.
With the analog radios, the lone tower on Mount Alto left officers without a signal in rural areas like Wax Road, The Pocket, the Rocky Mountain Project and near the Gordon County line.
“It was an officer safety issue,” Fincher said.
There already has been at least one instance where the wider reach of the new 10-tower system has benefited police.
“We had an officer make a stop near Adairsville at the county line, and he could talk to other officers on both his car and portable radio,” Fincher said.
The new portable radios also get better reception inside some buildings than their analog predecessors.
“Sometimes with the old radios, if you went in Walmart or a warehouse, you’d lose your signal,” Atkins said. “It was kind of disturbing that 911 could not hear you.”
Also, the different public safety agencies in the county can now contact each other directly via radio because they’re no longer on different systems.
“Before, you had to communicate with officers from other agencies through 911 or, if you had their number, with your cell phone,” Atkins said.
The new 800 megahertz digital trunking system was funded by a $26.7 million earmark in the 2009 special purpose, local option sales tax package. Non-public safety agencies made the move in December.