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Corrections officers to get new radios

February 16, 2001

Corrections officers to get new radios



By STACEY DANZUSO / Staff Writer, Chambersburg


CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Franklin County corrections officers will get 50 new portable radios that will enable them to communicate with one another from greater distances and with hands-free operation.

The county received the grant from the state Department of Community and Economic Development in October. The Franklin County Commissioners awarded the contract to Sound Communication in Chambersburg Tuesday.

The radios will replace the 3- to 10-year-old radios that the 56 guards at the Franklin County Prison had to share. Those radios only worked inside the jail.

The new radios will work within 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.

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Corrections Officer Lynn Thomas spearheaded the effort to get state funding for the radios last year after a prisoner escaped while the 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.

The prisoner was ultimately apprehended.

But if the officers had the handless radios at the time, the guard could have continued the foot pursuit while calling for backup.

"The radios will really improve communication. All officers will be able to keep in touch," said John Hart, county administrator.

The county now must advertise a notice of intent and a notice to proceed with the purchase, so it will be at least mid-April before the guards will receive the radios, Hart said.

In addition to the radios, the county is using the grant to purchase a repeater, two antennas, 10 spare batteries, 50 remote speaker/microphones, seven six-unit rapid chargers for the radios, 100 feet of cable, 50 carrying cases and the cost to install the system.

The total cost will be $29,212.

Sound Communication's bid came in about $300 less than a second bid from Kuhns Radio Communication.

Hart said money remaining from the $30,786 grant will probably be spent on individual chargers.

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