Citizens who tune into their scanners to monitor police radio transmissions may notice unusual silence Friday, Oct. 7. The Charles County Sheriff's Office will fully convert to the County's new 800 MHz radio system and scanners not compatible with the system will not be able to broadcast police transmissions.
Charles County government officials signed a contract with Motorola in 2002 to build the new 800 MHz digital trunked public safety system because the current VHF system was no longer reliable for public safety personnel. After building towers, installing new equipment and testing the system, Charles County is ready to fully deploy the new system. During the transition to the new system, the Sheriff's Office has been operating using a dual mode system, which allowed the VHF Sheriff's channels to be patched in with new 800 MHz talk groups. Officers using the old system could still talk to and receive communications from the officers and communications personnel using the new system. Now that all officers have been equipped with the new radios and all the testing is complete, the police communications officers will start dispatching solely from the 800 MHz system, and with the patch removed, transmissions via the new system will provide better radio coverage and have even less interference.
"This system is going to be much safer and more effective for our public safety personnel, only citizens who don't have a compatible scanner won't be able to monitor our transmissions," said Charles County Sheriff Frederick E. Davis. "There is definitely a benefit to having citizens hear our radio transmissions because those who monitor their scanners sometimes provide us with information based on the transmissions they are listening to. We encourage this kind of information sharing and we hope it will continue."
Anyone interested in purchasing a scanner compatible with the new system should contact an electronics store for a scanner that can scan an "800 MHz digital trunked radio system."