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Analog Radio Temporary Fix to Radio Communication in McKenzie

Posted 3/17/20

McKenzie (March 11) — During the regular meeting of the City of McKenzie Board of Mayor and Council, dealing with the lack of radio communication for first responders was the main topic of …

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Analog Radio Temporary Fix to Radio Communication in McKenzie

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McKenzie (March 11) — During the regular meeting of the City of McKenzie Board of Mayor and Council, dealing with the lack of radio communication for first responders was the main topic of discussion. Police Chief Craig Moates and Fire Chief Brian Tucker were tasked last month by the council to provide a solution to the drops in radio communication.

The “best option” was the purchase of an antenna with installation on the water tower adjacent to city hall. An estimate of $47,864 was provided from B&E Electronics of Jackson for the purchase and installation of the digital antenna along with other necessary equipment. There was still no guarantee of the quality of the digital radio service.

During the discussion, the council was made aware of the digital system (digital trunk) currently used is not the same system used by state agencies such as the Tennessee Highway Patrol (P25). In short, the City of McKenzie can not communicate directly with state agencies using the current radio system.

Chief Moates provided the possibility of purchasing new portable radios for the first responders.

The recommended radios use both digital and analog signals. Currently, the police department has temporarily moved away for the digital radios and back to analog due to the poor quality of coverage. The purchase of radios would cost the city approximately $44,000 but still does not solve the digital issue.

Concerns were noted by council members and Chief Tucker about not advancing towards digital.

While the analog is the backup system for first responders, it is not the new trended technology.

Weakley and Henry counties are moving towards digital and the likelihood of closure of analog gateway is a possibility in the future.

With no clear solution to the problem, the council has asked for the state to provide an analysis and guidance on the possibilities.

The council was informed the police and fire department needs a new console. It was agreed upon to issue an RFP (request for proposal) for the purchase of a new console in the 2020-2021 fiscal year.

In other business, the police department requested the ability to purchase up to three vehicles. The council will allow the police to purchase up to three as they come available.

The money used to purchase the vehicles will come from the drug fund. Currently, the drug found is showing a balance of $115,035.90; the average cost of a used police vehicle is $26,000.

Under department reports, the new digital water meter installation is complete, and the sewer repairs are nearly complete as limited patchwork remains. The public works department is preparing for mowing season and once weather permits crews will commence with tree trimming.

The park and recreation department is readying ball fields as league ball was scheduled to begin in the upcoming weeks. With the COVID-19 influx, league ball has been postponed. Security lighting has been updated at the municipal park and Mulberry Park.

The next scheduled meeting of the Board of Mayor and Council is April 9 at 6 p.m.

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