Archive for Friday, December 29, 2000

Police radio changes channels

December 29, 2000

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Lawrence Police have their own 800 numbers now megahertz, that is.

Police recently began using a new radio system, causing scanner buffs throughout the city to run to electronics stores to get new ones.

Listen to Lawrence police radio traffic online through our live police scanner.

"We had to bring in some scanners from another store to build up our stock," said Jason Neal, manager of the Radio Shack at Sixth Street and Kasold Drive. "People are coming in saying their scanners are broke."

The Lawrence Police Department has said goodbye to the one-channel VHF radio system it had been using for decades. The new system gives police up to 18 channels to use, said Douglas County Director of Communications Jim Denney.

The system also is shared with the Douglas County Sheriff's Department and the Baldwin, Eudora and Kansas University police departments, Denney said.

The new system increases officer safety by eliminating many of the radio transmission "dead spots" that existed under the old system, said Lt. Steve Zarnowiec, police night watch commander. It also allows officers to conduct business over the air without interfering with emergency calls, he said.

Moreover, the various agencies can talk to each other without needing more than one radio, if it becomes necessary, Zarnowiec and Denney said.

The infrastructure of the radio system cost about $1 million and was paid for through the 911 telephone bill tax, Denney said. The various agencies bought their own radios.

The radios operate on what is called a trunking system. A computer may switch an agency's transmissions through various 800-megahertz frequencies. More and more public service agencies are going to trunking systems, Zarnowiec and Denney said.

Radio scanners are available to the public to monitor such systems, and police didn't make the switch to stop public monitoring, Zarnowiec said.

"Regardless of whether I'm listened to, I'm being taped," he said, referring to the department's taping of its radio calls. "It doesn't bother me."

When law enforcement agencies want to talk about something they don't want the public to hear they use another communications system, Zarnowiec said.

"We use a telephone with land lines," he said.

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