City approves MSWIN radio system

Selectman Ken Poole, a former police officer and now a paramedic, and Police Chief Avery Cook listen to discussion about the radio system.
Staff Writer

By next spring, West Point police and fire and related agencies will be part of a statewide radio network that will improve communications locally and regionally.

Tuesday night, Selectmen approved an agreement with the Mississippi Wireless Communication Commission — MSWIN — to join the network which is part of the state’s ongoing effort to link emergency responders from one corner of the state to another.

The city will buy 89 radios — 66 portable units and 23 mobile units for police cars, fire trucks and other vehicles — and two control stations. Those along with related equipment will cost $173,575.48.

The state commission is expected to authorize the agreement at its meeting in early December, clearing the way for the city to actually place its order. The equipment likely would start arriving early next year and then be installed.

Clay County ordered its equipment in October and its has begun arriving but it likely will be next month or early January before it is fully operational.

The county bought more equipment, costing $236,000.

Chancery Clerk Amy Berry said Tuesday she has not yet financed that purchase, waiting for the equipment to be close to operational before getting quotes from banks. With interest rates beginning to tick upwards, she said she likely will start that process and present options to the Board of Supervisors at its Nov. 26 meeting.

Likewise, City Manager Randy Jones said he will wait until closer to when the new system is in place to recommend 48- or 60-month financing options to selectmen.

The city city finances for 60 months, the cost would be about $3,100 a month. The monthly payment would go to about $3,800 for 48 months, but the long-term interest expense would be lower.

“It’s really too far out to pin anything down. We’re just looking at estimates, using interest rates of 3.5 or 4 percent and maybe 5 percent just so we’ll have a ballpark range,” Jones said. “But I don’t think rates will get to 5 percent.”

The Mississippi Highway Patrol, game wardens, and several agencies, including Lowndes, Lee and some other counties, already are on the MSWIN system.

Once Clay and West Point both are on, deputies, police officers, firefighters, and other emergency responders will be able to communicate seamlessly rather than having to switch channels or frequencies.

They also won’t suffer the kinds of disruptions or dropped signals that aren a growing problem.

Furthermore, they’ll be able to talk to any other MSWIN agency anywhere in the state, dramatically improving response and cooperation in cases of everything from chases or crime suspects to major disasters.

Furthermore, the state handles maintenance, reducing what has been a major expense for local governments.