SOUTHINGTON — A recent switch from analog to digital radio communications is the final piece of a $2 million upgrade designed to give the police department better coverage and increase safety.
The switch comes after years of infrastructure upgrades, including replacing all the analog car and personal radios for police officers with those that can transmit and receive digital and analog signals. Deputy Police Chief William Palmieri said the department gets better performance from its digital communications and can more easily communicate with other law enforcement agencies.
“Most police departments, they’re going digital,” Palmieri said. “Digital can provide us a little more coverage, it’s a little more reliable.”
When the previous radios started to age, Police Commission Chairman Richard Montague said the department researched replacing them.
“They were breaking, it was hard to get parts,” he said.
Police also had trouble getting radio signals at times, something that Montague said should be fixed with the upgrade.
“They couldn’t always communicate with everybody everywhere,” he said.
David Gottlieb, executive vice president of Goosetown Communications, said while radios may have trouble in certain large buildings or in other unusual areas, police will be able to communicate throughout town.
“I do believe we’ve fixed any coverage problems out on the street,” he said.
The switch to a longer-range digital signal “increases officer safety, it enhances the efficiently of the radio system,” Gottlieb said.
Southington police lease the radios as part of a five-year agreement. Goosetown Communications provides maintenance and monitoring of the radio system which includes checking for system failures and fixing them.
”We take all the risk of ownership out of the hands of the municipality,” Gottlieb said.
Analog scanners will no longer pick up the digital-only police signals. Palmieri said the digital signal isn’t encrypted since he saw no reason to keep routine police transmissions from the public. In the future the department might use an encrypted channel for sensitive operations.
“There’s nothing on the scanner that you wouldn’t want people to hear,” he said. “If we had an operation and we could go to an encrypted frequency, that’d be different.”