Calling all cars: Digital radio coming

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Local law enforcement and emergency workers are taking steps toward a digital radio system that should help across-state communication.

Agencies on Colorado's Front Range already are plugged into trunk radio system that broadcasts in the 800-megahertz range, but Moffat County is the front-runner in the state's Northwest region to move toward the new system.

As an example of the technology's capacity, a Colorado State Patrol trooper talked on a hand-held radio in the Moffat County Public Safety Center with law enforcement officers in Pueblo during an informational meeting Wednesday.

"With our current system, if someone's in our training room, we can't talk outside the building," said Craig Police Capt. Jerry Delong.

Moffat County was one of 10 surrounding counties that received nearly $200,000 in grants last summer from Department of Homeland Security to update to digital radios for the different divisions of law enforcement and emergency services.

DeLong said that 118 portable radios and 71 mobile radios are expected to arrive by the end of next month to outfit all agencies.

But it may be months before local agencies are ready to go on board with the new digital system said Verlaine Harris, regional manager of the Craig regional communication center located inside the Public Safety Center.

Although it may take some time to "work the bugs out of the system," Harris said, the new system should work well.

One drawback to the digital system may be that people who use scanners at home or for personal use will have to purchase a digital version. The scanners reportedly cost at least about $500, police said.

"Whenever you have changes you're going to go through bumps in the roads," DeLong said.

"We hope to have everything up and running in Moffat County by the summer."

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