Lakewood hosts Metro Denver WICS
Steven Kabelis, a senior systems analyst with the Lakewood (Colo.) Police Department, said that a JPS Communications ACU-1000 computer-controlled cross-connect is at the heart of the Wireless Communications Interoperability System installed there.
The installation includes an equipment rack with radios from every agency that wants to interconnect and a computer that controls the interconnection. The police department’s communications center can select which radios need to talk with another and set up the links upon request.
Outside, directional antennas point to the other agencies’ repeater sites to pick up their signals. Omnidirectional antennas pick up signals from aircraft.
“Anyone with access can dial in with a cell phone and become part of the communications network. For example, someone in Washington could dial in and participate and communicate with anyone on those talk groups,” Kabelis said, referring to the federal need to communicate with local and state agencies during surveillance operations that might extend over great distances.
“When agents get in back of someone in New York, they may follow them to California. You don’t know where they’re going,” Kabelis said.
“We have drug task forces, and they communicate with U.S. Customs Service aircraft or with the National Guard if they’re training. We have air talking to ground talking to supervisory, and they might be from different agencies, such as Denver, Lakewood, Jefferson County, Customs aircraft — whomever, they connect and communicate. The system was geared toward drug interdiction and surveillance,” Kabelis said.
Kabelis noted that anyone who is part of the system could call in, properly identify, and the Lakewood dispatch center would set up the necessary patches.
“We use it more and more for local purposes as time goes on,” he said.
Colorado is in the process of deploying a statewide 800 MHz system, but Kabelis said that the need for the Wireless Communications Interoperability System would continue even after the statewide network is activated.
He explained that many volunteer fire departments have VHF radios and no money to replace them with 800 MHz units. Also, several larger cities, including Denver, Lakewood and Aurora, are using 800 MHz M/A-Com EDACS trunked systems that are not compatible with the statewide Motorola system.
“In fact, the ACU-1000 serves a need to tie the diverse 800 MHz systems together. We will still need the ACU-1000,” Kabelis said.