Bids for radios to be sought by city council

COLUMBIA CITY — The Columbia City Common Council is expected to announce the bidding process for new police radios at its regular meeting Tuesday.In recent weeks, the board has heard presentations from the two front-runners to receive the city radio contract — J&K Communications, a local company, and Motorola.Departments throughout the county of police, fire and emergency medical and dispatch personnel have been making a transition to 800 MHz technology since last year.Columbia City is playing catch-up to most of the county, where grant dollars have allowed communities like South Whitley and Churubusco as well as the county to purchase 800 MHz equipment.The Columbia City Police Department owns 10 mobile radios and a base unit and cross-band box located in the communications office.That equipment was all purchased through grants.The cross-band box is a device that allows translation between the 800 MHz systems and the current VHF system, which operates from 150-174 MHz.Representatives of both companies hoping to sell radios to the city have been working with Columbia City Police Chief Mike Petersen.The city plans eventually to purchase 800 MHz radios for city public safety entities such as the fire department.The radios already in use by the city were part of the same grant that purchased the equipment being used by county sheriff’s department personnel as well as the police departments of South Whitley and Churubusco.With 800 MHz technology, users can communicate with other emergency personnel over a longer distance.Around 1997, Indiana formed the Hoosier SAFE-T System, beginning the process of converting to the new technology.There are 149 transmitter towers in Indiana and about 150,000 users of the 800 MHz signal.