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Southern California Public Safety Agencies Upgrade Regional Communications Systems and Infrastructure From Top to Bottom

Date: 2016-01-05
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Murrieta (Calif.) Police Department is the first city law enforcement agency to transition to the newly launched Riverside County digital system and the first to switch to Harris full spectrum two-way radios, powered by IPT’s longer-lasting battery technology.

Over the years, public safety agencies throughout Southern California have experienced continuous issues when transmitting critical information to dispatchers due to a combination of antiquated communications systems, poor reception and, believe it or not, dead radio batteries. 

With the safety of its officers at risk and its population increasing more than 69%, Chief Sean Hadden of the Murrieta Police Department made improving the radio communications system a top priority.  He assigned Captain Dennis Vrooman and Cris Martinez, the Training and Radio Systems Administrator, to the project.  Their responsibility was to determine whether to improve the current system, develop their own, or join the new Public Safety Enterprise Communications (PSEC) digital system that the County of Riverside developed. Not only was the regional PSEC system state-of-the-art, but since the city of Murrieta borders two contract cities and other areas handled by the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, it would provide seamless interoperability between agencies.  After conducting field-tests to verify reception reliability, the Murrieta team chose the PSEC system and was the first agency to go online with Riverside County on July 20, 2015.

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Next on Murrieta PD’s list was to assess their infrastructure, including their two-way radio equipment.  Martinez took the lead on this research as he had the most technical and radio knowledge after 31 years of law enforcement experience. Murrieta PD originally had a Motorola backbone.  Although it was reliable, Murrieta needed a quad band radio platform for UHF, VHF, 700 and 800 megahertz, as well as situation awareness features, neither of which Motorola didn’t offer.  Thus, Martinez selected the Harris Unity XG100 full spectrum radios, which also happened to be the same radios both Riverside and Corona Police Departments were already using.

As previously mentioned, officer safety is of utmost importance to these agencies.  The new state-of-the-art system and quad band radio equipment were a major step forward in protecting personnel, yet a simple thing like radio battery failure could render the entire upgrade practically moot.  The Harris radios were superior, but their batteries weren’t lasting through a typical 12-hour shift.  So Martinez found a solution. 

“I found Impact Power Technologies  (IPT) at the Cops West Expo last year and decided to test their batteries, along with a few other companies.  I field tested them myself, as well as assigning them to our task force detective who works extremely long hours,” said Martinez. “We quickly determined that the batteries from IPT lasted much longer—about a day-and-a-half longer than the Harris batteries—and still they were able to recharge quickly.”

Right: Cris Martinez, Murietta PD's Training and Radio Systems Administrator, prepared new Harris handheld radios for use in the field.

Martinez made the recommendation to his Captain to convert to IPT, contingent on three things:  The batteries must cost the same or less than the OEMs; they must come affixed with a city logo label; and they must deliver approximately 260 batteries and 130 chargers in bulk so they could be immediately deployed to all sworn personnel, as well as other staff who are assigned to the field.  IPT accommodated all three completely and the deal was done.

Murrieta PD officers have found they no longer need to swap out batteries until the end of their second day’s shift.  As a result of this success, Martinez has referred IPT to other law enforcement agencies including the Indio Police Department, Hemet PD, and Riverside Sheriff’s Department.  All have either purchased or are in the process of purchasing IPT batteries and chargers as well.

Now, the Riverside County regional PSEC radio system is also attracting these same agencies, as well as many other neighboring departments, cities and counties in Southern California, as they all work toward becoming P25 compliant, ensuring better connectivity, and saving more lives.

For more information about Impact Power Technologies see: www.impactpowertech.com

- Corporate News/9-1-1magazine.com (via IPT, 1/5/2016)

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