The Barry County Sheriff's Office has received a grant from the Missouri State Department of Public Safety in the amount of $153,378 to be used toward the purchase of new communications equipment. Announcement of the grant came Friday.
The funds will be used to purchase new car radios, hand-held radios, vehicular repeaters and a new console for central dispatch that will comply with new narrow-band frequency standards issued by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
The new radios will also be distributed to the cities of Wheaton, Purdy, Washburn and Seligman.
"This new system will greatly enhance public safety as well as the safety of officers," said Barry County Sheriff Mick Epperly. "With more efficient radios and vehicular repeaters to boost the signal, officers will now have the ability to be away from their vehicles and still be able to communicate as if they were in their car.
"This is something we have needed for a long time," Epperly continued. "The new system also has the capability of linking all agencies together on the radio when responding to disasters such as the Joplin tornado where multiple agencies responded to assist."
The Missouri Department of Public Safety is setting up a statewide communications system and needed to use a frequency in use by the Barry County Sheriff's Office, placing the agency on a Tier 1 level to receive the grant.
"Being on Tier 1 status allowed us to purchase all of the equipment needed to be a part of the new communications system," Epperly said.
The new system is expected to be installed, tested and operational by the end of the year. The new repeated system is also being installed and maintained by the Department of Public Safety, relieving the county of financial responsibility for maintenance of those towers.
By joining the state's new communications program and obtaining grant funding for the radio equipment and repeaters, Barry County was saved several thousand dollars in anticipated expenditures that were required to purchase equipment designed to conform to the new FCC standards that will go into effect Jan. 1, 2013.