Clanton PD switches to SouthernLINC radios

Published 11:33 am Friday, September 2, 2011

Clanton police officers are now using SouthernLINC radios for communication with dispatch and each other.

Facing federal regulations to reduce its frequency output and be narrow-band compliant, the department decided to go with SouthernLINC, said Sgt. Neil Fetner.

To get countywide coverage, Police Chief Brian Stilwell estimated it would have cost the city $700,000 to upgrade its own radio network by installing repeaters and other equipment.

Switching to SouthernLINC cost the department a one-time charge of $43,000 for equipment. Its monthly bill averages around $1,300 a month, but Stilwell said the department was already paying around $1000 a month to use SouthernLINC as a radio backup.

“When you do the math, why not just pay a provider (like SouthernLINC)?” said Fetner.

So far there has not been any trouble with coverage or communication with dispatch, Fetner said.

“We have thorough coverage. I think it has been pretty well received,” Fetner said.

The radios also have an emergency button that stops all other communication if an officer needs help immediately. The radios can also be set up to have talk groups, where detectives or other members of the department can talk off the main radio line.

Being on a private line means the department’s communication will no longer be heard on police scanners.

Clanton PD said they will continue to use their current system as a backup and aren’t opposed to going back to it someday.

However, Stilwell said it would take every law enforcement agency in Chilton County working together to share the burden of installing a countywide radio network.

“Until we can get everyone together, (this is most cost-efficient),” said Stilwell.