NV County Sheriff’s Office receives $4.8M grant for radio tower equipment

Marianne Boll-See / The Union
The Radio Infrastructure Improvement Project will replace the current radio infrastructure that is over 20 years old after the go-ahead from the board of supervisors Tuesday. Nevada County received $4.8 million from the federal government for the project. Local county funding of $1.5 million is necessary to complete the project and will be funded by the Sheriff’s Office Federal Marshal Reserve.

The Nevada County Board of Supervisors authorized the upgrade of radio tower equipment and replacement of 78 vehicle radios, 96 handheld radios and associated equipment utilized by the sheriff’s office for dispatch and operational communication needs during their meeting Tuesday.

The Community Oriented Policing Services Technology and Equipment fund awarded Nevada County $4.8 million which Sheriff Shannan Moon was authorized to use on the Radio Infrastructure Improvement Project.

The current radio infrastructure is over 20 years old and in need of replacement. The current system is aged and working at partial capacity, according to officials that say replacement radios aren’t available for purchase.

Three of 13 towers are nonfunctional and the communication is limited in rural areas of the county “because of our vertical topography,” Rolf Klienhans, the Chief Fiscal and Administrative Officer for Nevada County sheriff’s office said.

This project will be utilized by five law enforcement agencies, Cal Fire and state and federal agencies, a critical service in the event of emergencies, such as wildfires according to officials.

The total cost of the Project is $6.3 million. Local county funding of $1.5 million will match the $4.5 grant to complete the project and will be funded by the Sheriff’s Office Federal Marshal Reserve.

“I love it. I think you know that the $4.5 million and the $1.5 million matching funds for law enforcement, especially for the sheriff’s department is incredible. And certainly Congressman Doug LaMalfa worked hard on this,” Dan Miller said.

Heidi Hall asked for clarification about the matching Federal Marshal Funds from 2008, and Rolf Klienhans responded: “The Marshal Reserve is a fund that originated in 2008 and it had to do with bringing in Federal Marshal inmates, and so they pay a fee to use that facility…there are not a lot of restrictions on it, and this is very appropriate.“

Hardy Bullock, District V, also thanked Congressman Doug LaMalfa for “pulling these funds together,” in addition to asking if the “radios will work in the canyon or in remote areas?”

“There certainly will still be areas where it frankly just won’t work because it can’t see the tower but this [is] upgraded, its a 2023 models vs. 1990 models, so we are hopeful it will provide better communication,” Andrew Trygg communications manager for the sheriff’s office.

The 96 Motorola hand-held radios will be ordered immediately and the 78 replacement vehicle radios will be about three to four months, according to Trygg.

“Once we get those in hand then we will start the engineering process for the actual radio towers throughout the county,” Trygg said.

“There were many applications for this [grant] and it was because of the quality of your application that Doug [LaMalfa] to look at these and say, ‘Wow, Nevada County has some real needs here.’ So I want to give you all credit for the work you put into these applications,” Susan Hoek said.

Details within the $6.3 million project budget include $1 million for radio site upgrade, $1.4 million for microwave back haul that will provide upgraded coverage in emergency situations such as wildfires, $1.3 million for hardware, $1.6 million for new radios, $1 million for implementation, according to information shared by Klienhans.

The Motorola hand-held radios “immediately give us multi-jurisdictional agency communications. The current radios we have can not communicate with Cal Fire or California Highway Patrol (CHP); these radios will, ”Klienhaus said.

It is anticipated that the project will be completed by the end of March 2024.

To contact Staff Writer Marianne Boll-See, email or call 530-477-4256.

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