New radios for prison announced

October 25, 2000

New radios for prison announced

By STACEY DANZUSO / Staff Writer, Chambersburg

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A state grant will fund a new communications system for guards at Franklin County Prison that will make the staff and the public safer, state and local officials said Tuesday.

State Sen. Terry Punt and Franklin County Commissioner Warren Elliott said the $30,768 grant will buy 60 radios for the jail's 56 guards.

The radios will replace the 3- to 10-year-old radios that guards had to share and that only worked within the prison, said Warden Ray Rosenberry.

The new radios will work in a 20-mile radius of the prison and will have shoulder-mounted microphones that will clip to the guards' belts, allowing them to keep their hands free, said Corrections Officer Lynn Thomas, who spearheaded the effort to get state funding for the radios.


His efforts for a new communication system began after a prisoner escaped while a guard was taking him from Chambersburg Hospital.

After a brief foot chase, the guard was forced to return to the hospital to call the prison for assistance in capturing the prisoner.

If the guards had these handless radios in January, Thomas said the guard could have continued the foot pursuit while calling for backup.

"If he had an adequate communication system the inmate would have been apprehended quicker," Punt said.

The prisoner was ultimately recaptured.

Thomas explained the constraints of the current system.

"Once I leave the property I can't hear anyone and no one can talk to me," he said. "The new system will have a repeater and you can talk for 20 miles."

Thomas said that in the event of an escape there will now be enough radios for all officers to use.

"This is a big improvement," Thomas said

Elliott and Punt made the announcement in front of the prison on Franklin Farm Road Tuesday morning during the regular Franklin County Commissioners meeting.

"This grant comes at a critical time because we don't have funds in the county budget for an appropriation for radios," Elliott said.

The grant comes through the Community Revitalization Program and is administered by the Community and Economic Development Committee, Punt said.

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