Smith County deputies using radio equipment that is old, often unreliable

Local News

Smith County Chief Information Officer Don Bell

TYLER, Texas (KETK) — Smith County will spend about $400,000 to replace 108 old and often unreliable handheld radios used by sheriff’s deputies and other public safety workers.

The Department of Information Technology identified 217 handheld radios and 210 vehicle radios that need to be replaced, Don Bell, head of the Department of Information Technology, told commissioners on Tuesday.

Most of the equipment is at least 20 years old.

The county eventually will need to replace all of its 539 Motorola handheld and vehicle-based radios, he said.

“These are critical infrastructure, public safety devices we use every day,” he said in addressing the commissioners court. “And it (equipment) serves a lot of our departments — our sheriff’s office, constables, our fire marshal, district attorney, road and bridge department, even our juvenile attention center, our jail operations all use these radios.”

The first priority is replacing the handheld units, which have a “high failure rate,” Bell said.

“These radios from Motorola are no longer supported … which basically means we can no longer get them repaired,” he told commissioners.

The commissioners approved awarding a $400,000 contract to Motorola Solutions for the new radios.

Bell encouraged commissioners to continue allocating money to buy radio equipment in future budgets until all the old equipment is replaced.

The new radios should have a life span of about 20 years, Bell said.

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