Grant brings cities, county new connections

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Police, fire, emergency agencies can talk seamlessly

By Lou Elliott Jones, Editor

It's a fact of life in Levy County, Williston has it's own communications system and a "bridge" is needed to keep the city's police force in touch with the Sheriff's Office. It's similar in Inglis where the town on the border with Citrus County must use a "bridge" to reach out to the Citrus County Sheriff's Office to coordinate events like drug busts and chases.
On Monday a $178,500 federal grant paved the way for all of Levy's municipal police departments — Chiefland, Cedar Key, Inglis and Williston,  and the county's sheriff, fire and emergency management departments to communicate with each other and similar agencies outside the county.  The grant was part of $3.68 million awarded to the Regional Domestic Security Task Force which represents 13 Florida counties by the state's Division of Emergency Management.
The money allowed the county, under the guidance of Lt. Scott Finnen, to purchase 47 radios at $3,795 each — the first major upgrade in communications equipment in the field since the county converted to the state's 800 megahertz system in 2007. The P25 handheld radios  are dual band —meaning they have digital and analog communications capabilities. It can be used for wireless communication  on the Internet for a laptop computer when it is hooked up to a radio. And it allows  users to receive text messages as well as voice communications. And all communications are encrypted for security.
A Sheriff's Office press release said the new radios will be used for communication in emergency and natural disaster situations.
Inglis Police Chief Steve Dixon, who came to the Sheriff's Office in Bronson on Monday to pick up his department's radios said it would have been handy during a recent drug bust in his town because Citrus County sheriff's deputies were participating. "It would have made things easier," he said.
Sheriff's Lt. Scott Tummond said the radios send a larger message to the public. "We can show our citizens that we are working as a combined unit," Tummond said.