Deputy's Dead Zones

By Laura Ann Sills - email

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Every Sumter County Sheriff's Deputy is armed with a radio, what they call their law enforcement's number one tool.

But for years these deputies have had to deal with the frustration of dead zones.  Areas where their radios won't work.

Sheriff Pete Smith has been dealing with the problem for five years, "and we've addressed it, we've tried to find a solution to it through the means of the 911 center, from the county commissioners, there's some negotiations and discussions but its time to get it fixed."

Sheriff Smith says since they can't change the geography of their county, they have to change the system.

Deputies say that when they pull someone over and respond to an emergency in a valley, they have to run or drive up the hill to receive radio communication.

Commissioners were ready to vote on a new system in November, but then a local digital option came into the picture.

"When you're dealing with digital and analog, you're dealing with apples and oranges, not apples and apples. So we've had to take a look at it, says Randy Howard of the Commission.

There are restrictions on the commissioners, they have to keep in mind the relationship between the county and the city as well as their part in the Middle Flint 9-11 system.

Two companies have put in their bids for the contract, Motorolla and Kinwood Radio. Commissioner Howard says there will be a test run of the digital system in January and then there will be a vote.

And after 5 years, Sheriff Smith says it's time to rip off the band-aid's they've used to patch the problem and finally fix it.  "Ours is more of a serious nature. When human life is involved we've for to do everything we can to correct it."

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