Natchez Police Department, Public Works approved to get new radios

Published 12:02 am Friday, January 4, 2019


NATCHEZ — The Natchez Police Department and Public Works Department will soon have new radios after the Natchez Mayor and Board of Aldermen granted approval of a $190,617 purchase during a special called meeting Thursday.

Natchez Chief of Police Walter Armstrong said the police, fire and public works departments have all been seeking new radio equipment for some time now.

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Only $150,000 was included in the 2019 budget for new radios, officials said. However, Armstrong said the rest could be paid during the next fiscal year.

Armstrong said the departments’ current radios are outdated and parts are no longer manufactured to repair them, nor can they use them to communicate with other agencies.

“The statewide radio network will allow us to communicate with outside agencies,” Armstrong said. “Currently, we can’t even communicate with the Adams County Sheriff’s Department.”

New systems must be purchased, delivered and installed by the Mississippi Wireless Information Network’s deadline on March 1, Armstrong said.

Armstrong made a presentation to the board asking for 29 mobile radio systems to be installed in police vehicles, 50 portable radios, “walkie-talkies” for police officers and eight additional portable radios for public works.

Because the fire department is being considered for $180,000 FEMA Assistance to Firefighters grant to purchase radios, Armstrong said additional radios for the fire department were not included in the bids.

The police department and fire department would share radios until the grant could cover the cost of any additional radios, Armstrong said.

Armstrong said he considered the best purchase option out of the two lowest bidders that met the needs of the department, Com South for a total installation and equipment cost of $165,178 and Jackson Communications for $190,617.

Armstrong said Jackson Communications was the most suitable option for the police department’s purposes because Motorola, an established brand that is already utilized by agencies statewide, manufactures the company’s radios.

“The MWIN was built by Motorola,” Armstrong said. “The entire system, statewide, was built by Motorola — meaning all of the towers that these radios will be connected to were built by Motorola, as contracted by the state of Mississippi.”

Armstrong said 90 percent of the systems used by agencies statewide are built by Motorola — including the equipment used in the Adams County 911 center dispatcher’s console.

Having Motorola radios would allow a greater chance of connection when officers give or receive assistance from neighboring agencies, Armstrong said.

“Because there would be all Motorola radios in the system, there would be fewer problems connecting in difficult places,” Armstrong said. “Now, there are many places in the city that we go to where our radios do not work.��

In addition, Armstrong said the new radio systems would include a 3-year warranty with a 3-year maintenance plan at no extra cost. The radios also have other useful features, including noise-canceling microphones and a “man down” emergency button that sends an alert if an officer is in distress and cannot communicate.

In other matters during Thursday’s meeting the board:

  • Unanimously granted permission to the public works department to advertise for federal Emergency Watershed Protection funds.
  • Unanimously granted permission to the city clerk’s department to close dormant bank accounts as well as transfer, create and rename other accounts for capital improvements and the citywide water improvement project.
  • Unanimously and retroactively granted permission for the city clerk’s department to transfer $10,000 from the general fund to cover payroll, which would be reimbursed once ad valorem taxes are received.
  • Unanimously approved the renewal of automobile and building insurance through Byrne Insurance Inc.
  • Voted 5-1, with alderwoman Sarah Carter-Smith voting “nay,” to grant approval for the mayor to sign off on policy changes to city employees’ health insurance plan provided by Performance Health.