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Hagerstown police to get communications system

September 25, 1998|By JULIE E. GREENE

Hagerstown City Police expect to have new communications equipment ready for use by early spring, Lt. Gary Spielman said.

City Council members voted 4-0 on Tuesday to approve a $489,980 contract to replace the department's 12-year-old communications system, including dispatch consoles and portable radios, said City Clerk Gann Breichner.

Councilman William M. Breichner was absent from Tuesday night's regular session.

The new system will enable an officer in need of help to signal the department by pushing a single button, Spielman said.

The system also will let officers encrypt their communications so people with scanners, including suspects, won't be tipped off about police actions, Spielman said.

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Several times officers have served search warrants for suspected drug dealing only to find the suspects had inexpensive scanner equipment tuned to the department's frequencies, according to a memo from Police Chief Dale Jones to City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman.

Encrypting communications at such times could reduce the risk of injury to officers and protect investigations, according to the memo.

People with scanners, including fire police, still will be able to hear most communications, which can benefit the department, Spielman said.

The new system also will increase the department's coverage area and replace two temporary radio consoles that have been in use since consoles were damaged by lightning on July 24, 1995, officials said.

Older equipment will be used as a backup at the Washington County Sheriff's Department in case city police should ever need to evacuate police headquarters at 50 N. Burhans Blvd., Spielman said.

The new system will allow city police to communicate with the sheriff's department and Maryland State Police, according to the memo.

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