City to give final look to digital police, fire radios
The Bossier City Council approved introduction of an ordinance allocating from the Sales Tax Capital Improvement Fund to purchase $1.3 million in digital emergency communication equipment.
The ordinance, sponsored by Bossier City Police Department Chief Shane McWilliams and Bossier City Fire Department Chief Brad Zagone, allocates $1.3 million from the Sales Tax Capital Improvement Fund for the purchase of equipment such as radios, consoles, and upgrades to the Louisiana Wireless Information Network (LWIN).
McWilliams said the events of Hurricane Katrina motivated him and BCFD Chief Zagone to request the radio equipment.
“We had an influx of people from south Louisiana and other agencies assisting us help the people of south Louisiana, we had little to no communication with the other agencies involved. If you do not have communications, you have a total breakdown,” McWilliams said.
“We have had some circumstances here locally with fires at Lake Bistineau. There again the biggest problem that occurred was communication.”
McWilliams said the new LWIN system gives Bossier City emergency officials the ability to communicate with other emergency officials from the Louisiana-Arkansas state line to the boot heal of the state. McWilliams also said aside from purchasing the equipment the state maintains the data network.
Bossier City Attorney Jimmy Hall urged council members to strongly consider the ordinance after the Bossier Sheriff’s Office shifted to a digital system.
“The Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office is going to it and as we downsize or whatever we have to do in the future based on certain situations we can operate with them just by switching channels,” Hall said during the Mar. 29 Agenda meeting.
“Even on a routine basis, when it might not be necessary, we can contact them and deal with them. The state and feds take care of the entire system, they put it in, they maintain it. The only thing you just have to buy the hardware to access it,” Hall said.
Hall said city workers would continue using the current system and emergency personnel could use it as a back up system if a major system error occurred.
“We have limited reliability on the outskirts of town with what we currently have,” Hall said.
The council votes on final approval of the ordinance during its Apr. 19 regular meeting.
The council also passed a resolution to hire four communications officers to fill four of seven positions amended into the BCPD’s annual budget last fall. The four officers would cover much of the $392,000 approved by the council to hire officers to work the city emergency call center.
At the time of the vote, Bossier City Council President David Jones said although he supported hiring the communications officers, the city does not need to go back to practices that brought upon the budget shortfall of 2009.
“Warm bodies are not just a pay check warm bodies are also a pension payment,” said Jones.
“As we add more warm bodies, there is an associated cost and we do not know what that figure is or will be.”