All public safety personnel switched over at 3 a.m. Tuesday. Non-public safety agencies made the move in December.
The new 800 MHz digital trunking system, funded by a $27 million special purpose local option sales tax earmark, replaces the various outdated analog systems different departments used for decades.
“So far, everything seemed to go pretty good on our end, and our coverage is much better,” said Floyd County Police spokesman Jerome Poole.
Rome Deputy Police Chief Travis Goss said his department also benefits from a clearer reception and wider service area.
“There is no scratchiness or interference,” Goss said.
There are now ten digital radio towers ensuring that there is a signal throughout the county. Before, there was one analog tower on top of Mount Alto, originally designed to serve the city of Rome and not the entire 518-square-mile county.
According to Poole, the limited range of the lone analog tower left officers without a signal in rural areas like The Pocket, the Rocky Mountain Project and near the Gordon County line on Ga. 140.
Now, officers who leave the range of one tower’s signal will get picked up by a different tower in the system, preventing any dead spots or interference.
Dead spots in the county have caused problems in the past, like in March 2008, when emergency responders had trouble communicating in the aftermath of a tornado in the Wax community that left two dead.
County police employees were provided with a day or half-day of training to prepare for the switch to digital, Poole added.
The upgrade also allows officers from both agencies to switch channels and interact directly with each other as well as with medical, fire and emergency personnel and the Floyd County Sheriff’s Office.
“It’s good to know that you’ve got a way to communicate with the county if you need it,” Goss said.
Prior to the upgrade, Poole said the agencies had to stay in contact either through 911 or over the telephone.
Both departments used hand-held radios Tuesday, following the switch, and are waiting to have digital radios installed in patrol cars.
Goss said car radios will be installed next week for the city and radios for motorcycle cops are expected to be added today.