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Local News

June 3, 2014

County officials consider dropping dispatch center from interoperability plan

ROCKWALL — During a visit with consultants on Tuesday morning, members of the Rockwall County Commissioners Court discussed moving forward with a countywide interoperability radio network.

Also in attendance were various police, fire and EMS personnel for Fate, Heath and Rockwall among others where discussion also centered around moving forward without the addition of a consolidated dispatch center.

Greg Munchrath, a consultant with RCC Consultants Inc., gave commissioners an overview of where the plan stands. The breakdown included a recommendation for either a four-tower simulcast tower system or a five-tower system to meet the county needs. An upgraded radio network would also give the county about 95 percent radio coverage of the area, so agencies from various departments can communicate with one another. The installation of a new or upgraded radio network would also allow for coverage about three to four miles beyond the county line. The proposals calls for using exiting towers in Rockwall and Heath, but also the installation of new towers in Royse City and Mclendon-Chisholm at sites to be determined.

Commissioners looked at proposals from Motorola among other vendors during Tuesday’s special meeting. Preliminary costs for implementing the network were not disclosed.

“For the county, a four-site configuration is the minimum we would recommend,” said Munchrath.

Consultants and commissioners are currently looking at using Motorola for installing the new radio network, which calls for about 700 radios to be used between cities invited to join the network. Cities invited to join include Royse City, Heath, Fate and Rockwall.

“Motorola has also proposed a six-channel system, but if Rockwall, Heath and Fate do not participate, a four-channel system would be sufficient,” Munchrath said.

The system being considered is expandable and could include cities in the future should they decide to join the network.

Letters sent to invited municipalities by the county commissioners have been received after county commissioners attended council meeting to personally address city council members regarding the interoperability plan. Some of the feedback, responses and concerns were outlined Tuesday. Concerns focused mainly on cities wanting a stake or part ownership of the dispatch center and the use of a universal CAD system, among other issues.

“We have known what we wanted to accomplish from just radios for the sheriff’s department to inviting other cities to join a network and building a dispatch center,” said commissioner Dennis Bailey. “We have identified this as the right equipment. But let’s not forget what our main goal is here. Until one entity goes to a universal CAD system we cannot move forward without the dispatch center.”

Some police and fire personnel in attendance at Tuesday’s meeting asked the commissioners to not lose focus of the main objective.

“I don’t think there is an issue with the radios being implemented, but we don’t want to get bogged down about the dispatch center; it should not be a sticking point when we are discussing an officer’s safety,” said Fate DPS Captain Brian Griffeth.

“Most of the cites are for the system, the real issue comes about with the dispatch center,” County Judge Jerry Hogan said. “If we do away with it (dispatch center) we may be throwing the baby out with the bath water. There are significant issues that have been brought to us about the dispatch center.”

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