New communications equipment

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Crawford County continues to 

enhance communication towers

By Ted Pennekamp


The Crawford County Sheriff’s Department and Dispatch Center has increased its communication capabilities for the benefit of all yet again. 

In late May, equipment for a new simulcast radio system was installed on all four communication towers in the county which allows all towers to transmit the signal. There are towers near Prairie du Chien, Seneca, Wauzeka and Rolling Ground.

“Now everybody can hear everybody,” said Emergency Government Director Roger Martin in noting that the Dispatch Center, Sheriff’s Department deputies, Prairie du Chien police officers, fire department personnel and EMS personnel can hear each other. 

Martin explained that in 2013 the Federal Communication Commission required narrow band radio communication, which didn’t work well given the topography of Crawford County. Martin and Sheriff Dale McCullick said that the dispatcher often had to switch towers in order to find the one which made communication with a deputy possible. This no longer needs to be done. In addition, communication between deputies spread out throughout the county has been greatly enhanced. Martin said that all towers are linked via a microwave system.

“The new system is really working well,” said Martin, who noted that the increased communication capability increases officer safety as well as the safety of the public. 

The new simulcast system cost $87,000 which was part of a surplus in the Sheriff’s Department-Dispatch Center budget. No borrowing was needed. 

In addition to the recently installed simulcast system, a tower site alarm system is currently being added to all four towers. The alarm system will alert dispatch to potential problems at any of the towers including a smoke alarm, a high or low temperature alarm, an AC electrical power problem, an uninterruptable power supply problem, microwave problems, GPS problems, and when the generator is running. 

“It will help us diagnose problems a lot quicker, any equipment failure or pending  failure,” said 911-Rural Addressing Director Julie Cipra. 

Cipra said that the tower site alarm system cost $21,000 which also came from a surplus in the Sheriff’s Department-Dispatch Center budget. The tower site alarm system also benefits the city of Prairie du Chien which has equipment at the Prairie du Chien tower for their police department, fire department and EMS.

McCullick and Cipra acknowledged the efforts of soon-to-be retired Roger Martin in gaining the new simulcast system as well as the tower site alarm system. Martin was responsible for acquiring $237,000 in federal grant funding which gave the initial boost for getting the new systems.

“Roger said that he would get the communications fixed before he retired, and he’s done it,” said McCullick. “He did a wonderful job and I want to commend him.”

“A lot of work was involved in setting these systems up,” said Cipra. 

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