Dodge County Could Switch to a New Communication System for Public Safety **VIDEO**

FREMONT – A long discussion arose during a presentation on the County Public Safety Radio Proposal during the Board of Supervisors meeting.

The presentation was given by Motorola Solutions and the Dodge County Radio Committee. Many representatives from local public safety agencies were also in attendance to speak on behalf of the proposal.

The proposal is for Dodge County to switch to an 800 MHz system called ORION, just as the City of Fremont did in 2015. Changing to the same system would allow communication between Dodge County Sheriff deputies and other agencies, such as the Fremont Police Department and the Fire Stations. It would also allow for better coverage.

According to Sheriff Steven Hespen, the current LE Radios don’t have the coverage they need, and it makes it difficult to understand each other. He says at time their portable radios can be virtually unreadable, and deputies often resort to cellphone calls instead.

“We’ve had pursuits that have left Dodge County where we’ve lost radio traffic. Obviously that’s problematic and a big safety concern for those deputies that are involved,” said Hespen. “So for us to get an upgraded radio system that allows this interoperability among all the agencies in the county, and also outside of our county, it would be a safety plus for all the first-responders in Dodge County.”

Due to the City of Fremont’s radios aging and beginning to fail years ago, the city switched its police and fire radios to the 800 system. Fire Chief Todd Bernt says the system has been a major improvement, and one that could really benefit the county as well.

“Under the old system, when we were out in the county, such as Ames or Nickerson, we always had a problem communicating with dispatch. And with other towns,” said Bernt. “But with the 800 system, we have no problems communicating when we’re out in the county, such as Ames, Nickerson, or Hooper. It actually improved four times than what it was.”

Much of the discussion at the meeting was in regards to the pricing summary of the proposal. The presentation gave an estimated total of $10.2 million for the proposal. Broken down, the towers would cost $4.1 million, $2.6 million for the radios, the site equipment was estimated to be $3.6 million and the microwave ring would be $1.8 million. Motorola Solutions also offered a radio discount of $980 thousand and a system discount of $950 thousand. They also listed financing options including no payment for the first year, no interest in the first five years, and a ten year lease.

Because it was just a presentation the Board of Supervisors did not take any action in regards to the proposal. There is currently no scheduled date for when action on the proposal will make it onto the agenda.

Also at the meeting the board granted permission for County Attorney Oliver Glass to apply for a 2018-2019 Community Based Aid Grant. They also ratified the Property Committee’s purchase of the property for the new probation office.