Friday, January 13, 2012

Police Chief Chat

This past week the Rolla Police Department handled 667 calls for service. Of these calls there were: 19 arrests, 12 alarm calls, 9 traffic accidents, 14 traffic complaints, 14 check the well being requests, 124 traffic stops, 19 disturbance calls (including domestics), 9 suspicious nature complaints, 12 assists of other agency requests, 15 field interviews, 9 escort requests, 1 leave without pay report, 2 death investigations, 1 harassment call, 4 fight calls and 33 security checks. This call total is up 42 calls from last week and yes, another busy week!

I would like to take this opportunity to welcome our newest member to the Rolla Police family with the return of Phillip Moss to his country and back here to the Rolla Police Department. Officer Moss was hired by the Rolla Police Department in December 2010, but was immediately deployed by the U.S. Army Reserve to serve a year-long tour of duty in Kandahar, Afghanistan, so we really didn’t get a chance to get to know him. Phillip was stationed with the 307th PS.Y.O.P. (Psychological Operations), 7th Group, 10th Battalion, 307th TPC which was his third tour in the service to our country. On Wednesday, Mayor Bill Jenks, III, administered the oath of office to Officer  Moss in a ceremony held at Rolla City Hall. Also present at the ceremony were City Clerk Carol Daniels and Sgt. Kenny Moberly who is Phillip’s shift supervisor.
Phil Moss was born and raised in the Rolla area, and is certainly happy to be home and is looking forward to beginning his law enforcement career with the Rolla Police Department. Officer Moss’ start date is Tuesday Jan. 17, 2012 at which time he will be assigned a Field Training Officer and will undergo a 12 week training program where certified police officers become Rolla Police Officers. The Rolla Police Department and the City of Rolla extend a warm “welcome back” to Officer Moss, and offer a big “thank you” for his service to our community and to our country.

With the increase in emphasis on national security, law enforcement is continually looking for ways to improve our capabilities to  better serve our communities. Such improvements could be training, equipment upgrades, proactive planning, re-assigned manpower distribution and many other possibilities. One of the top priorities in better security and better law enforcement is cooperation among local agencies and interoperability. The key to interoperability is communication and our ability to communicate with these cooperating agencies.

Here in Rolla, we are very fortunate in that we are the home to local, county, state and federal law enforcement and emergency service organizations. While this presence is an advantage, it is not an advantage if we cannot communicate with one another. An example of lack of communication occurred back in May of 2011 when a deranged shooter with an AK47 assault rifle led law enforcement on a 30 mile shooting spree. This scenario developed when the shooter entered upon Ft. Leonard Wood, shot at military law enforcement, then fled through St. Robert, entered onto I-44 and then traveled to Rolla. During this event there were many local, county and state agencies involved in the pursuit and attempted apprehension. One problem was that pursuing officers had to relay critical information concerning the pursuit, via two-way radio, back to their home agencies who then had to rely on telephone our other means to provide this information to communities in the path of this pursuit. This was due to the fact that each agency is assigned dedicated radio frequencies that do not allow communication between officers and other agencies. Essentially we had a crazed gunman heading toward our community and our Central Communications people were not able to communicate with pursuing officers.

Recognizing this problem, the State of Missouri has proposed and begun implementation of a state wide emergency radio system that will incorporate the use of 72 radio towers strategically placed across Missouri and will consist of a narrow band digitally trunked radio system that will allow state wide communication among emergency service agencies. As you may or may not know, 2-way radio systems operate through the use of various radio wave frequencies or channels that allow officers to communicate with their departments. There are only so many frequencies to go around and as you can imagine, these frequencies are valuable to their assigned agencies. The new state wide system will need 10 frequencies for each proposed tower or area and is contacting emergency service organizations across the state in hopes of soliciting these needed frequencies for the system.

The City of Rolla been asked to relinquish 6 of our assigned frequencies and in return will be provided the necessary equipment needed to convert our system to the digitally trunked narrow band system. To convert this equipment over on our own would cost the City of Rolla thousands of dollars. In addition the State of Missouri has mandated that all radio systems currently in use must be converted to the narrow band system by December 31, 2012. This proposal will allow us to meet that deadline at no cost to the City of Rolla. We have held several meetings over the past couple months with affected agencies and department heads to determine the best route for the city to take in this proposal. We have decided to offer 4 of our 6 frequencies and keep the 2 main Rolla Police frequencies in the event that the new system is unable to provide the level of communication we require.

The new state wide system is already up and running in the Sikeston area and they are very pleased with the service. One difference between the Sikeston area and the Rolla area is the geographic terrain. Sikeston is basically flat and offers little interference for radio wave travel where here in Rolla with our hills and valleys the interference causes weak or dead spots that we must endure. This situation creates a safety concern for emergency responders so we need to ensure that the system we accept is best for our personnel. I will keep you abreast of the progress.

Have a great week!

Chief Mark Kearse

1 comment:

Danny Garcia said...

Its great that the state wide radio system is already up and running in Sikeston. at least i'd feel safe when i get back to Sikeston. Even though it costs thousands of dollars, its really worth it.