City looks to upgrade radio system for first responders - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

City looks to upgrade radio system for first responders

Amarillo Police Officers Amarillo Police Officers
Amarillo Firefighters Amarillo Firefighters
Cpl. Jerry Neufeld, Crime Prevention Cpl. Jerry Neufeld, Crime Prevention
Kevin Starbuck, Coordinator for City of Amarillo's Emergency Management Kevin Starbuck, Coordinator for City of Amarillo's Emergency Management
Amarillo City Council Amarillo City Council

AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) -  The City of Amarillo is willing to spend millions in the name of public safety. 

Amarillo city council members have approved a contract to work with a consulting firm and decide what kind of upgrades are needed for police and fire departments -- something first responders have been asking for for over a decade. 

"It is way past needed," said Corporal Jerry Neufeld with the Amarillo Police Department. 

Kevin Starbuck with the City's Emergency Management Department says the current system no longer meets the needs of the city and says the need for the upgrades starts with the system being 30-years-old.

"We have upgraded components and parts of the system, so it's not about to fall apart," said Starbuck. 

The Amarillo Police Department adds they've had trouble with the current system -- creating a potential dangerous situation for the officers and citizens. 

"We have located areas in town where we have dead zones in places that, if the officer is on his radio the signal is very very weak and it's not getting transmitted to other officers or to our dispatcher," said Neufeld. "If he's on his walkie-talkie, it's even worse." 

The new technology would give these departments everything they need -- from new towers to radios.

"It would provide us better coverage, better building penetration, and  improve the reliability of the system and basically improve our capability to expand the system to meet the growing need for the city," said Starbuck. 

However, all these upgrades comes with a hefty price tag. The contract with the consulting and engineering firm will cost $540,000 -- money the city says they already have but implementing these upgrades would cost the city millions of dollars. 

"We are trying to be realistic with it. We understand these are very expensive systems," said Starbuck. "They are not something to be taken lightly and we're going to work through that process to try and make sure we represent that taxpayers and the citizens of Amarillo to the best of our abilities." 

Officials hope to have a new system installed in two years.    

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