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Radio 'dead space' could mean longer response times

By Lyndsey Price, lprice@wcyb.com
Published On: Aug 06 2014 07:47:22 AM CDT
Updated On: Jun 19 2014 04:16:00 PM CDT

Radio 'dead space' could cause you to wait longer for first responders. It's also dangerous for their safety.

HAWKINS COUNTY, Tenn. -

Radio 'dead space' could cause you to wait longer for first responders. It's also dangerous for their safety.

That's because in some parts of Hawkins County radios will not work.

When a call comes into the Hawkins County Dispatch, you want to know a first responder will be on the way, and the first responders wants to know they'll be able to talk with dispatch in case they need back-up. But that's not always the case. "It's gotten to the point right now where if we have service we're lucky," says Sgt. Scott Alley.

Sgt. Scott Alley with the Hawkins County Sheriff's Office says he's been in law enforcement for 26 years, and the radio service has been deteriorating.

He says earlier this month no radio reception put some officers in danger when they responded to a domestic call that turned into a chase. "The suspect who did have a handgun, other officers responded and didn't know where they were. They had a general area but they couldn't talk to each other," adds Alley.

That's why Allie says it's time to update the radio system.

EMA Director Gary Murrell says currently deputies on the upper and lower ends of the county cannot hear what the other is saying.

That is one reason the county wants to go to a simulcast radio system. "It's something we wanted to do back in 2004 and 2005. Unfortunately the money was just not available then. We updated the old equipment we've had since the 1990s then," says Alley.

He says now there is some money, but it's not enough. "The total amount to do this is not available yet, but I think the county is looking strongly to pursue something to get this," says Murrell.

Sgt. Alley says he hopes changes come soon. "If we need additional help other officers maybe EMS or fire you know it just cuts down on our response time," he said.

EMA Director Gary Murrell says the county is sending someone to check the tower at Bays Mountain where the radios are malfunctioning to see if there is a problem.