If you enjoy listening to the activities of the Rolla Police Department on the scanner, you may need to go out and buy a new radio by the end of the month.

If you enjoy listening to the activities of the Rolla Police Department on the scanner, you may need to go out and buy a new radio by the end of the month.

The RPD will be making the switch to using digital radios.

Paula Volkmer, communications chief, told the Phelps County Emergency Services Board (PCESB) Thursday, Nov. 8, that the RPD’s switch to digital radios will be occurring sometime after Nov. 15.

The switch is part of a plan to begin operating off of the Missouri Statewide Interoperability Network (MOSWIN), which is only compatible with digital radios.

MOSWIN is aimed at allowing all law enforcement agencies throughout the state to operate on the same radio network regardless of geographic location.

The RPD chose earlier this year to take an offer made by the state of Missouri to swap ownership of three of its radio frequencies in exchange for the upgrade.

When the switch happens, Volkmer said existing scanners will not be able to pick up the department’s radio traffic. In order to continue listening to RPD traffic, people will need a digital-capable scanner.

There had been some concerns that communication would be limited between the RPD and the sheriff’s department, which still uses analog radios.

However, the sheriff’s office was awarded four radios earlier this year that can be used in both the digital and conventional modes. The sheriff’s office is looking to switch to the MOSWIN network in the future.

Also at the meeting, PCESB members received an update on the computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system and were told that all of the geography files have been put into the system.

The board was told that “for all intents and purposes, it's all done” and that it could go online tomorrow once central communications personnel clean up and double check their work.

“We’re fine tuning it,” Volkmer said, adding that all of the background information dispatchers are used to having in central communications’ current CAD system still need to be added, like route instructions.

Volkmer also provided an update on the Wireless USA radio communications pilot program in the Duke area, noting that she is waiting on technicians to program the department’s radios with the tower there.

She said technicians to perform the programming work are hard to find since many agencies are using them to meet the federal requirement to switch to narrowband before 2013 or other agencies are working to switch to the MOSWIN network.

“They just don't have enough technicians to go around and get everything done,” Volkmer said, adding that the radios could be programmed around the start of next year.

Other business

The PCESB also approved a proposal for a new counselor to provide legal services to the board to replace J. Kent Robinson.

PCESB members approved a proposal for Lance Thurman, who works at Robinson’s law firm, to begin providing legal services to the board beginning Jan. 1, 2013.

The proposal approved is for a monthly retainer of $300 and in addition, Thurman would charge the board an hourly rate of $150 for attorney time in excess of two hours per month and $75 for paralegal time, plus out-of-pocket expenses. Robinson will remain as counsel through the end of the year.

Stoney Byrne, PCESB member, along with others at the meeting, thanked Robinson for his efforts.

Also approved at the meeting was more RAM (random access memory) for the two servers connecting the sheriff’s department and police building after Volkmer said the servers were “sluggish” when certain programs were running.

Robinson said additional RAM would cost about $1,500 per server.

“In this case, I think more is better than less,” PCESB Chairman Paul Rueff said.

The board also authorized to spend up to $250 for binders to give each board member a copy of the policy manual created with the help of board members Steve Zap, Carl Collet and Pam Grow, who provided outlines. Rueff said he appreciates their work on the manual, which will list all of the policies approved by the board since its formation.