Contract signed for NHP radios |

Contract signed for NHP radios

Geoff dornan, Appeal Capitol Bureau

The first radios for the Nevada Highway Patrol’s new communications system should begin to arrive in three weeks.

Robert Chisel of the Nevada Department of Transportation said the Las Vegas and Reno radio systems will be the first moved to the Nevada Department of Transportation’s existing 800 MHz system. He said troopers in the two metropolitan areas should be up and running by January. The biggest technical challenge will be installing the new equipment in the patrol’s dispatch centers.

He said it will take longer to install the new radios in all NHP patrol cars.

Highway patrol commander Col. Dave Hosmer said upgrades in the rural areas of the state will be done last because the state still has authority to use channels in the 150 MHz band “temporarily.”

The state must get off that band in the Reno and Las Vegas areas, however, because it is using those channels illegally and has been threatened with fines by the Federal Communications Commission.

The Board of Examiners formally awarded the contract for the new radio equipment to M/A-COM Inc. Tuesday, authorizing state agencies to spend up to $17 million on equipment over the next year. The expenditure will be less, however, because the budget contains only $16.1 million.

The terms of the contract allow not only NHP but other state law enforcement and security agencies to hook into the 800 MHz radio system. The system will eventually include Parole and Probation and the Nevada Division of Investigations among others.

The Nevada Department of Transportation is already on the 800 MHz system and will be the core of what planners now envision as a unified state public safety and law enforcement radio communications system.

“Fortunately, it’s an existing system,” Chisel said. “We know it works.”

The radio system generated significant controversy during the 2003 Legislature after it was revealed NHP failed to apply for proper licenses for the channels it was using. Hosmer also told lawmakers there was no way to get licenses for those frequencies and the FCC was ordering the state to stop using them.

He blamed the prior NHP administration saying the only reasonable alternative was to abandon the 150 MHz radio system, which was less than 10 years old, and move to the 800 MHz system. He said his office is still investigating how that happened.