Public-safety agency partners with Ewa on spectrum issues
White Settlement, Texas, is a city located on the west side of Fort Worth, and if you look at White Settlement on a map, you’ll also see that it is basically surrounded by that major city. Fort Worth is the city known as “Where the West Begins,” which would make White Settlement the absolute leading edge of the West.
According to Lt. John “J.P.” Bevering, who is in charge of communications for White Settlement, this gave rise to a “profound interoperability challenge,” being in that location and one that was met in accordance with the official motto for White Settlement, “Preserving the past, preparing for the future.”
“We were on VHF and we were the only VHF system on the west side of the entire Dallas /Fort Worth Metroplex,” Bevering remembered. “We contacted EWA to search out 800 MHz frequencies because we needed to build a new radio infrastructure.”
EWA assisted White Settlement by locating vacated Sprint channels. After that, the next challenge was creating a regional system with other smaller departments in the area — a process that ended up taking about two and a half years from basic concept to final system readiness.
At this point, Westworth Village, which also handles dispatch duties for another small community called Lakeside, is on the same system and there are plans to work with another community as well once their funding is in place. All of the cities, Bevering points out, border each other.
The best illustration of the needed interoperability is what Bevering called “The WalMart incident.” The WalMart building is located in Westworth, Texas; the store’s parking lot is in White Settlement. “So, there is an incident in the store and once they run into the parking lot, you have two different agencies involved,” Bevering remembered. That incident, which highlighted the great need for interoperability very clearly, was the precipitating event for the new regional system.
The system they put in place — working with grants and a city bond — is a Motorola Astro P25 digital system, and White Settlement was one of the first agencies in the Dallas /Fort Worth Metroplex to move in that direction with a digital system.
Bevering is pleased with the system because it also means they did the narrow banding process at the beginning. The radio system not only accommodates the thirty-two sworn police officers in White Settlement, it encompasses the public works department and the fire department.
“We didn’t have the time and resources to find talk groups and channels in the 800 MHz frequencies,” Bevering pointed out. “EWA searched, researched and negotiated the acquisition of those channels for us and worked with the FCC and the FAA.”
EWA currently is researching additional frequencies for this public-safety agency so they can expand their system to include additional agencies.
In terms of a digital system, Bevering has a word of advice, “This is what it will eventually come down to, the technology will be digital and will be the only way to go. Get on the bandwagon or be left alone like we were for so long with VHF and old equipment.” Or, to paraphrase the White Settlement city motto, “Preserve the past and prepare for the future.”