By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — The Colfax Police Department will soon have five new portable radios purchased at 25 percent of the total cost, thanks to a grant received by Dunn County.
The cost to the Colfax Police Department for five new portable radios will be approximately $2,750 for radios that would normally cost $11,000, said Colfax Police Chief William Anderson at the Colfax Village Board’s April 13 meeting.
Wisconsin will soon be changing to a new radio system called WISCOM, Police Chief Anderson said.
The new shared radio communications system will be used by first responders and emergency personnel and will greatly improve the ability of different agencies to communicate with each other, he said.
Wisconsin Emergency Management has announced a radio grant that is available to certain agencies, including Dunn County. The grant will cover 75 percent of the cost of certain portable radios that are eligible, leaving individual agencies to be responsible for 25 percent of the cost, Police Chief Anderson said.
All of the new radios will come with batteries, chargers and speaker microphones, and the grant also covers 100 percent of the cost for reprogramming the base radio system at the police department, along with reprogramming the radios in the squad cars, he said.
The portable radios that the Colfax Police Department currently uses will not work with the WISCOM system, Police Chief Anderson noted.
Scott Gunnufson, village president, wondered if the police department needed five radios.
“I don’t know if we need five. Maybe we only need three. But a few years down the road, if something happens to one of them, then we would have to buy the radios outright, and currently they are a cost of $2,600 each for the Motorola and $2,200 for the Viking,” Police Chief Anderson said.
Village Trustee Susan Olson wondered if the new radios would become obsolete in a few years.
“It doesn’t sound like it with the new system. The radios we have now would not be able to get on the new system,” Police Chief Anderson said.
Don Knutson, director of the Colfax Rescue Squad, said there were major changes in communication over the last four or five years, and he was not anticipating any major changes for another five to ten years.
Village Trustee Annie Schieber wondered if the Colfax Rescue Squad was using the same type of portable radio that the police department was asking for.
The new portable police department radios would basically be the same type of radio the rescue squad purchased a few years ago, Knutson said.
The frequency is unique and operates almost like a cell phone. With the new radios, emergency personnel could talk to someone in Madison if necessary, he said.
Village Trustee Jeremy Klukas wondered if the police department and rescue squad have a need to talk to each other by portable radio.
“It depends on the incident, but with the new radios, we could communicate with each other,” Police Chief Anderson said.
As an example, when listening to the Dunn County emergency services scanner, an ambulance might arrive at a fire before the fire department and law enforcement and report to dispatch that fire is showing from the roof of the structure. The dispatcher must then communicate to the fire department and to law enforcement what the ambulance crew reported to the dispatcher.
The new WISCOM system will allow the agencies to communicate directly rather than going back and forth through the dispatcher.
The two portable radios eligible for grant funding are the Motorola APX 6,000 model with a purchase price of $2,600 each or $650 with the grant applied, and the EF Johnson Viking VP 600 with a purchase price of $2,200 each or $550 with the grant applied.
Police Chief Anderson recommended purchasing the EF Johnson Viking.
The Colfax Village Board unanimously approved purchasing five of the EF Johnson Viking portable radios at a total cost of approximately $2,750.
In other business, the Colfax Village Board:
• Approved publishing a newspaper ad at the end of April and the beginning of May to encourage residents to abide by the village’s ordinance and clean up their properties. Lynn Niggemann, village administrator-clerk-treasurer, reported that a notice about clean-up had also been included in the most recent water bills.
• Approved using the time for a person who needs to do community service to paint the ice skating warming shed rather than residing it. The village board had approved spending $300 for materials to reside the structure but learned that the materials would cost nearly $500 if purchased from Menards, while other estimates were between $600 and $700 for materials. Rand Bates, director of public works, said if the village purchased siding, the siding would be worth more than the building and recommended repairing certain spots and painting the structure.