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Police Department Goes Digital

If your police scanner has been unusually quiet lately, there is a reason for it.

Booneville Police Chief Al Brown said last week the change over to digital equipment was completed last Tuesday adding the BPD to the list of county agencies now operating fully in a digital capacity.

Analog scanners will not pick up the signal.

In May the Logan County Sheriff’s Office made a switch to digital by utilizing emergency medical system capacity.

The Logan County Emergency Medical Service got digital radios a year ago. Volunteer fire departments made the switch next and the sheriff’s department followed suit.

The BPD continued to use the older, analog system until last week.

“They did all of our radios. There were a bunch of state and county guys who came and got our channel programmed into theirs,” said Brown. “They did our repeater on Tuesday morning and we were completely digital.

“So all those people out there in scanner-land wondering why they aren’t hearing us, that’s why.”

Brown said there are multiple advantages to making the switch.

“It helps in reliability and clarity and distance,” said Brown. “We can talk and hear a lot further than what we could before.

Specifically, Brown said when his officers were five or 10 miles away from the city, although officers could switch and communicate through the sheriff’s office they could not communicate directly with their dispatcher.

“Now we can talk almost to Paris and almost to Waveland on our own repeater,” said Brown.

In October of last year the BPD acquired three new radios — about $1100 each — through an Edward R. Byrne Memorial grant in preparation for the switch. The department had received five handheld units and each vehicle was outfitted when, through the Driggs Fire Department, the county’s Office of Emergency Services acquired a federal $491,000 grant to install the digital system.

Donny Fairbanks, director of the county OES, has stated the change to digital was not to prevent the general public from listening in.

“In 2012, the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) mandated that all radios had to switch to narrow band transmission,” Fairbanks said in June. “When we did that, we lost a lot of coverage. The only way we could get it back was to go digital.”

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