The Audrain County Sheriff’s Office announces that effective May 1, the sheriff’s office daily operations radio traffic will be moved from the conventional two-way radio system, which has been used for decades by the sheriff’s office, to the MoSWIN System.
MoSWIN is the acronym for the Missouri Statewide Inter-operability Network, which is a radio network that was devised in the aftermath of 9/11. The system was designed so first responders from any part of Missouri have the ability to have two-way radio communications with any other first responders anywhere in the state.
The system uses a series of tower sites, software and hardware, and is similar to what used to be operated by “Nextel” with their push to talk cell phones.
Audrain County Sheriff Matt Oller said “We watched this project as it progressed, and it has been used by the Missouri State Highway Patrol for daily use statewide and the Centralia Police Department regionally for the past few years, and it seems the bugs are worked out of the system, and we’re convinced it’s dependable,”
Oller said he has worked on this major project for four years now, which began under then Sheriff Miller. To this point, the sheriff’s office has acquired about $150,000 of the needed equipment, spending very little out of the sheriff’s office operating budget. Sheriff Oller said, “It’s enough to begin conducting daily operations, but we’re only partway there.”
At this point, the sheriff’s office fleet vehicles have been upfitted with the needed equipment, but handhelds are still the old style and are not compatible with MoSWIN.
“The saving grace is that we are able to “extend” those car radios to our conventional handheld radios using “mobile repeaters” in each car” Sheriff Oller said.
The repeaters let deputies talk on the system by allowing the old style handheld to basically become the car’s radio microphone. Sheriff Oller said “It works, but this is only a temporary way to operate. Now we must begin getting those non-compatible handhelds replaced, which we would have to do soon anyway, given their age.”
The current handhelds are about 10 years old, which Oller says is quite “elderly” for a piece of electronics equipment that is carried on a belt, exposed to elements, moisture, physical abuse, and gets used daily. Oller says he will continue to fund the project without getting into the sheriff’s office operating budget as much as possible.
“There have been times that we have been lucky to be able to talk from one side of the county to the other using a 100 watt mobile radio, radio communications have moved leaps and bounds in the past several years and now, to be able to pick up a five watt handheld and talk to the bootheel of Missouri is quite impressive. The best part of this is the system of trunking sites we will be using are maintained by the state, so our maintenance costs go down.”
Oller added the current sheriff’s office repeater sites, one in eastern Audrain County and one in western Audrain County are maintained by local county funds.
“When something goes wrong, it’s costly, and with this system, that burden is no longer on us, it’s up to the state to maintain the system,” Sheriff Oller said.
Oller noted that residents who listen to scanners regularly will notice a difference, as the old sheriff’s office frequencies will no longer be used daily, and without expensive scanning equipment, it won’t be possible to hear the sheriff’s office radio traffic on the MoSWIN system. The county will maintain the licenses for their old, “conventional” frequencies to be used as a backup in case the MoSWIN system ever goes down, but those instances should be “few and far between”.