FOREST PARK — The Forest Park City Council has paved the way for a telecommunication tower that will allow its police and fire departments to communicate more effectively.
In a special called meeting Friday, the council voted unanimously to remove an ordinance restriction that prevented a tower from being built within 1,000 yards of a residential area.
“There is no place in the city we could build it and not be a 1,000 yards away,” Forest Park Police Chief L. Dwayne Hobbs said. “We’ve taken small bites along the way. The county had been less than cooperative and I don’t know why that is. It is frustrating to have someone to hold us back, moving the football every time we try to kick.”
The tower is scheduled to be built around February. The Federal Aviation Administration gave the city’s police department clearance as long as they stay 200 feet away from the airport, to avoid causing interference.
As part of the upgrade, the city’s police and fire departments are updating their radios to communicate with other first responders in the Southern Crescent.
Forest Park Police Maj. Jamie Reynolds recently returned from Motorola headquarters in Chicago, and told the city council by moving to the Motorola P25 radios the city police will be on the same radio frequency as the Clayton County Police Department.
“Clayton County Police are on the P25 system and with this system we will have the inner operable abilities to talk to each other,” Reynolds said. “People with scanners will not be able to listen in. Everything will be encrypted.”
Reynolds and Hobbs addressed the council during the special called meeting about updating the radios. The police officials said the new radio system they will use will operate on frequencies between 700-800 MHz.
Reynolds said another advantage of having the P25 system is having complete control over operating the system’s radio frequencies.
“For instance, before, if an officer is in a foot chase and loses his radio, there was no way we could turn it off. The person that found it could use the radio, call dispatch or do anything they wanted with it.”
Reynolds assured the council that there was no reason for residents to fear any kind of harmful radioactivity from the tower.
“There have been numerous studies conducted that the tower being built at the police department will not cause a problem or interference,” he said.