Delaware County Distributes 2,500 Communications Radios to First Responders

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Released: January 22, 2021

Delaware County Emergency Services began the distribution of 2,500 newly purchased radios that will be used by police officers, fire departments, and Emergency Medical Services in Delaware County. Leaders from Delaware County's Police Chief's Association and the Fraternal Order of Police received the radios at the Darby Borough Police Station on Jan. 19.

More than 1,200 radios will be allocated to all full-time and part-time police officers in the county. Delaware County fire departments will receive 800 radios, 200 will be provided to Emergency Medical Services, and the remainder will be allocated to emergency management and special operation units.

This purchase is part of a $3.5 million project that addresses Delaware County’s aging emergency communications network. The radios that relied on older technology sometimes experienced a problem called “ducting” (or officially referred to as Troposphere Propagation), occasionally interfering with the ability of a first responder to communicate with the 911 Center. The new radios use updated technology that eliminates this problem using radio channels that are not subject to interference by ducting.

As part of the project, the County also purchased 1,000 mobile cellular phones which work as a back-up to the radios. These phones allow officers to connect directly to the same radio network with a single push of a button. Council approved the purchase of the radios and phones in December 2020.

“Delaware County is providing the most advanced tools and technology to our First Responders,” said Tim Boyce, Director of Delaware County’s Department of Emergency Services. “Council's commitment extends past mere words- these financial investments will improve the ability of our officers to serve the entire community. Being first to merge cellular and radio systems together is just another example of our forward- thinking during times of crisis".

Phone service will be provided by Sprint/T-Mobile for 10 years, free of charge, thanks to a generous grant Council recently voted to accept.

Delaware County is now among the first dispatch centers in the nation to combine radio and cellular capabilities for public safety. It is expected that all police officers will receive the new radios within two months.

The County is providing these radios and phones for first responders across all Delaware County municipalities. Because municipal budgets may not be able to absorb the cost of such technology --- at a cost of over $2,000 per radio --- and in the past may have invested in systems that did not always work together with other municipalities and the County, this project will ensure that first responders of all communities can communicate with each other and the County.

These radios, along with the cellular phones, are part of a larger multi-year project that will modernize and integrate communications with Delaware County first responders, our 911 Center, emergency managers, hospitals, schools and our new health department.

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Delaware County, presently consisting of over 184 square miles divided into forty-nine municipalities is the oldest settled section of Pennsylvania.

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