BROOKINGS – The Brookings Police Department has purchased a new radio dispatch system for $164,000 after its previous one was severely damaged in a power surge Nov. 30.
The decision to buy a new system rather than repair the one they have was made at the E-911 board meeting held on Dec. 11, where board members discussed the merits of both options.
The cheaper of the two options would be to repair the damaged radio dispatch system, a task that would cost about $51,200. The expense comes from making new cards for the server rack the radio system uses. The server rack contains eight cards, and each card handles two radio frequencies. All but one of the cards were damaged beyond repair from the power surge, leaving the department with the use of only two radio channels.
Although the radio system was plugged into an uninterruptable power supply, which can act as a surge protector, it failed for unknown reasons during the power surge Nov. 30.
Up to this point, the insurance company has said it would cover some of the costs of repairing the radio system but would not contribute anything toward a new replacement, Brookings County Commission Department Director Stacy Steffensen told county commissioners on Tuesday.
According to Brookings City Manager Paul Briseno, they are still trying to work with their insurance company on the matter, however.
“We’re still trying to work with them to see if there is any wiggle room in that response. It’s not finalized from our perspective, so we’re going to try whatever we can to recoup as much as we can for the citizens,” Briseno said.
Although repairing seems to be the cheaper of the options, it’s not guaranteed to be the final repair, as the radio system vendor, Two Way Solutions, is unable to fully diagnose the damage without functional server cards in place. It could be that once the new cards are put in that more damage is discovered and more work and money would be needed to make the radio system fully functional again.
“In discussion, the E-911 board voted to do the complete replacement because they viewed repairing as more of a Band-Aid fix,” Steffensen said. “We were working with 12-, 13-year-old equipment the way it was. Just repairing didn’t seem like it was going to be a long-term solution for what we needed.”
Replacing the radio system costs $164,000, with the city paying two-thirds of the cost, and the county paying the remaining one-third. The city has already paid the total amount to the vendor, with the county to repay the city for its share of the expense.
It was declared an emergency purchase by the city, allowing Briseno to do this without the need for city council input.
“With the city manager form of government, it allows me to make necessary emergency purchases when deemed necessary. The council is fully aware of the situation, though,” Briseno said.
The county will pay about $41,000 for its share of the expense of the new radio system, and it added $23,000 in contingency funds to E-911 to help offset the expense.
The new radio system will be digital rather than analog, which the previous radio system utilized.
Brookings Police Chief Dave Erickson confirmed that dispatch has continued to use a radio box loaned to them from Two Way Solutions until the new system arrives. Thanks to this loan, dispatchers have been able to continue to do their duties.
Contact Eric Sandbulte at [email protected]