Police in Hamden, Conn., to see UHF upgrade soon
VHF lowband is out, and UHF is in, at the Hamden (Conn.) Police Department.
The police department in the city of 55,000 situated north of New Haven in the south-central part of Connecticut chose a two-channel conventional UHF system to overcome in-building coverage problems that literally grew up with the city.
“The lowband signal doesn’t penetrate some of the city’s larger buildings, 80% of which were built since the lowband system was constructed in the 1950s,” said Ed Abrams, president of Utility Communications in Hamden.
Utility Communications has been servicing the police department’s radio system for 30 years. As the only bidder when the city put the new system out for bid, the company won the contract worth about $500,000, not counting a new tower project that has been delayed.
The installation is scheduled for completion by Sept. 1.
Sgt. Joseph Murray, commander of the department’s Central Communications Division, said that the two UHF frequencies became available when another Connecticut police department upgraded to an 800 MHz trunked system. Other 800 MHz frequencies already were filled, and potential 700 MHz frequencies have yet to be made available.
The new system will use the department’s main repeater site, and the system will include several satellite receivers fed through a voter to improve the base station’s reception of signals from portables.
The police department has 106 budgeted sworn positions, 23 full-time and two part-time civilian employees, and 28 school crossing guards.
Security officers in Hamden’s schools use UHF radios and have to relay messages through the school dispatcher and from there to the police dispatcher to reach police resource officers in the schools. When the police department switches to UHF, school security and the police will be able to communicate directly by radio.
The Hamden Fire Department uses 150 MHz radios, so neither the current nor the new police radios are frequency-compatible. But both departments share a dispatch center with a console patch that can link their radio systems for interoperability when needed. Interoperability with nearby towns that use UHF will be improved.
The new equipment will replace all of the base stations, mobiles and portables. The purchase of Motorola equipment includes four Quantar base stations, 140 HT 1250 portables, 50 CDM mobiles and three Astro Spectra motorcycle radios.
“The officers are very pleased with the prospect of the new equipment, because there isn’t a day that goes by that the dispatchers don’t have to ask them to repeat themselves. The UHF system will clean up the dead spots and increase officer safety,” Murray said.
“We were one of the last police departments in Connecticut to be on VHF lowband,” he said. “Everyone else migrated years ago.”