Emergency agencies going digital
Wed, Jul 31, 2002
Thursday will be a very quiet day for people who like to follow local police action by tuning into personal radio scanners.
That is, unless they have forked out upwards of $180 to purchase a new 800 MHz trunk tracking scanner that can pick up the signals broadcast by the county’s new radio system.
The changeover, which will occur at midnight tonight, will render the currently used 10-band radio scanners useless in Glynn County (Ga.). Brunswick and Glynn County fire, police and emergency medical personnel are changing to the new 800 MHz radio system.
The changeover will not affect the Georgia State Patrol or Coast Guard.
The older 10-band scanners cannot pick up the more powerful signals produced by the new system. The sound quality will be the same, but the new system offers the police and emergency workers more talk channels than the old system, which offers only two or four.
“It’s going to be harder to keep up with the action on the new scanners,” said Sgt. Greg Post of the Brunswick Police Department. “We have nine different channels, and the scanners will be switching around a lot. You may be listening to county police at one minute, then city fire the next.”
Although the changeover has been over a year in planning, some people may not yet realize that their equipment will soon be obsolete in Glynn County.
“There are going to be a lot of people showing up at Radio Shack come Thursday morning wondering why their scanner isn’t working,” said Rupert Chastain, a civilian who closely monitors police activities in Glynn County.
Chastain’s prediction may very well come true. According to a salesman at Radio Shack in Brunswick, the store has sold 50 to 60 scanners in the past two months.
The majority of customers purchasing the new scanners are volunteer firefighters and other emergency volunteer personnel.
Few are happy about having to purchase the 800 MHz radios, which cost roughly the same as the older 10-band radio scanners. As for the soon-to-be-useless 10-band scanners, there are few options.
“All I can suggest is that people with the old scanners give them to people in other counties that don’t operate on 800 MHz,” said the Radio Shack salesman.
“From what I understand, there is no way to update them. If there is, it will probably cost as much as purchasing a new one.”
Copyright 2002 The Brunswick News. Republished with permission.