WACO (March 12, 2013)--After deliberating for 45 minutes Tuesday, McLennan County Commissioners approved a request from the McLennan County Sheriff's office for nearly $500,000 to upgrade to new digital radios.
The sheriff’s office said it will cost an estimated $477,000 to equip patrol vehicles and deputies with the digital radios.
The request came after the sheriff's office learned that the Waco Police Department's dispatch center will switch from analog to digital radios in June.
Since the early 1990's, the police dispatch center has handled the job of dispatching deputies in response to 911 calls in the county.
“Times are changing. Analog is on its way out, and digital is on its way in,” McLennan County Chief Deputy Matt Cawthon said.
“If we don’t go digital...and the analog system goes down, then we will be without a dispatch service,” he said.
“Imagine a call going to 911, if we are unable to respond because we don’t have a radio system, then we’re in trouble,” Cawthon said.
“We will be in trouble and the people who need us will be in trouble.”
The only other option, Cawthon said, would have been to create a new dispatch center for the sheriff’s office, but that would have cost taxpayers millions of dollars, significantly more than the conversion to digital radios.
“This solution is a fraction of what it would cost to build a new dispatch center,” Cawthon said.
“Not only is this solution cost effective, but it is a solution that will serve for many years to come,” he said.