Digital radio technology coming to Ralls County

For a police officer or someone involved with dispatching fire or ambulance crews, a two-way radio can be a lifeline.

Now, the Ralls County Missouri Sheriff's Department is about to switch from an analog radio system to a digital system.

Gary Dinwiddie has been a police officer for more then two decades and he just took over as the Ralls County Sheriff.

He said when one of his officers responds to a call in certain parts of the county, they get into areas that are called dead zones. Areas that aren't conducive to two way radio transmissions that take place between the officer and the dispatch center.

"Ralls County, because of it's geographic layout and stuff we have we have flats and along the river hills and valleys and when you get on the other side of the hills and valleys you get no communication. A person does not know what they have on the call when they get down there. They might send one person originally and it might be it might be a gun fight it might be a person dying from a heart attack where you need the communication to 9-1-1 to tell them what you need," Dinwiddie said.

So a recent grant has helped the department purchase digital radios. These radios will help the officers as they patrol the county. The sheriff said even with the portable radios that deputies will carry with them, they'll be able to reach the Ralls County Emergency Dispatch Center with no trouble.

"This new system will help us tremendously because it increases the communication between departments and our own officers so we don't have no communication between the officers," Dinwiddie said.

The radios will also allow the deputies to communicate with other agencies who might be responding to the same call. And it's a system that will allow radio traffic to be scrambled to prevent those people who have a police scanner to listen in on emergency dispatches.

The county had to match the grant money by ten percent to help with the purchase of the radio equipment.