Grand Island Police to improve communication with new radios

Currently, police are unable to speak with outside agencies
GI City Council approved purchase of the new radios for $547,281.
Published: Jan. 25, 2023 at 5:36 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 25, 2023 at 6:04 PM CST
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GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - The Grand Island Police Department will be getting new portable radios to help them better communicate with outside agencies.

During Tuesday night’s city council meeting, council members were presented with three options in order to replace their aging equipment.

The last time GIPD purchased portable radios was in 2013 and 2014, which the department said is past their practical service life.

It’s something new police chief Kevin Denney said was a priority after only being on the job for two weeks. He said he saw how officers were unable to speak with Nebraska State Patrol, Kearney Police or even Buffalo County.

“That presents a big problem because we do interact with them on a lot of issues on a regular basis and unless we are standing side by side with another officer or state patrol, we can’t talk to them on their radio,” said Chief Denney.

The department put up three proposals for the council to choose from.

The option that the council approved was for 75 APX8000 model 1.5 portable radios, supporting equipment and programming for a total cast of $547,281.

“It was one of the issues I noticed immediately coming in,” said Chief Denney.

He said the inability to talk to other agencies is a critical shortcoming.

The new models will mean that there will not be any future portable radio costs in the event the city or county migrates to the SRS during the lifespan of these radios.

These are a multi-band solution, meaning the radio will be able to operate on the current analog radio system, and on existing and future p25 systems including the SRS.

Chief Denney said they are only getting the amount of radios for the personnel they have currently, and not getting radios for empty positions that they are recruiting for.

Finance Director Patrick Brown said they are getting creative to make sure to cover the cost since the ask is more than what they have budgeted for.

Captain Jim Duering said the the radios won’t be arriving in the hands of officers immediately. Platte Valley Communications told police they have a three month lead time from when they are able to place the order.

Also during Tuesday’s meeting, the council gave the go-ahead for the Grand Island Fire Department to apply for funding to purchase 70 new radios.

Chief Cory Schmidt said they are hoping to get the grant to cover the nearly $660,000 cost to get the devices. The grant would cover up to $605,000 if awarded with the rest coming from the city. They said the devices cost more than what the police are asking for as they need to meet certain standards. The chief said if they did not receive the grant, they had no plans to replace their current radios.