The Benton County Quorum Court’s public safety and justice facility committee is moving forward with a plan to buy a new radio system for the sheriff’s office.
Emergency responders say this will benefit all of Northwest Arkansas. Although it’s the sheriff’s office requesting the new multi-million dollar system, police and fire chiefs throughout the area believe it will improve communication and public safety all over the region.
“Probably the most important piece of equipment that they carry and that’s their radio,” said Rogers Fire Chief Tom Jenkins.
Jenkins said a new radio system in Benton County will allow first responders in Northwest Arkansas to communicate more efficiently.
“It’s an opportunity in front of us that we’ve never had in Northwest Arkansas for agencies all the way up the interstate, Fayetteville, potentially Springdale, Rogers in the next few months and hopefully Benton County to all be on the same type of radio system so we can truly be interoperable,” Jenkins explained.
If the quorum court approves the new radio system, smaller police and fire departments in the county will also be required to make the switch.
“In order to receive the 9-1-1 calls and the emergency information that we need to receive via radio and to keep our officers safe, we have to be on board with this type of situation,” explained Highfill Police Chief Blake Webb.
Webb said the city will have to foot the bill for the new radios, which will be in the thousands of dollars.
“We’re already working with a very tight financial budget here in a small town,” Webb said. But he believes the upfront cost is worth the long-term pay off.
“An officer having a radio that’s reliable and a system that’s fail safe and interoperable with other agencies is paramount,” Webb said.
“Should we have a tornado, should we have a man-made disaster, should we have a really bad day in Northwest Arkansas, it means we can make ourselves go through it a little bit better as emergency responders because we’ll be able to talk to each other, coordinate resources, deliver the help to the people that need it,” Jenkins explained.
Webb said the sooner the quorum court approves the funding for the new radio system, the sooner he can begin working on how the city of Highfill will afford it.