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Sheriff’s office, rural fire districts to receive new MOSWIN radio system

The Cape Girardeau County Commission approved a $2.8 million purchase of MOSWIN-capable local and portable radio equipment for the Sheriff’s Department and the seven volunteer fire districts in the county.

This purchase, made through a state contract with Motorola Solutions, will allow the county emergency responders to communicate on the same system as the City of Jackson and the City of Cape Girardeau’s police and fire departments.

“This is a safety issue and a response issue regarding mutual aid responses from both law enforcement and fire, due to the inability to directly communicate,” Cape Girardeau County Commissioner Charlie Herbst said, adding that the emergency responders currently use outdated portable radios that cannot communicate with other agencies in the county.

Herbst said a countywide transition to the Missouri Statewide Interoperability Network, commonly referred to as MOSWIN, has been a goal for many years. He said the system, which includes a network of communication towers, way stations and software, provides public safety communication for state agencies and local jurisdictions wishing to use it for interoperable communications.

“The capability to communicate across jurisdictional and physical lines is one of the top priorities of Missouri’s homeland security program, ensuring that neighborhood jurisdictions and multiple disciplines can communicate with each other,” Herbst said.

The purchase marks phase two of the county’s interoperability upgrade project, with the county’s combined dispatch center with the City of Jackson already transitioned to the MOSWIN system last spring.

Herbst said the City of Jackson was able to switch over its fire and police to the MOSWIN system along with the new dispatch center opening. The City of Cape Girardeau’s fire and police transitioned to the MOSWIN system in August 2020

“This will be the final piece of the puzzle to bring functioning interoperability to all law enforcement, fire and emergency management agencies in Cape Girardeau County,” Herbst said.

County Commissioner Paul Koeper said the new communication equipment will be a major help if the County ever has to deal with a major catastrophe like an earthquake, and Presiding Commissioner Clint Tracy said the new system will allow the County to greatly expand its communication capabilities.

“With this system you can communicate, frankly, across the state,” Tracy said. “You can easily call Jeff City. It’s quite a system.”

The purchase from Motorola will be split between county funds, with $1,048,388 being paid from the sheriff’s budget and the remaining $1,772,492 coming out of the County’s capital improvement budget.

Sheriff Ruth Ann Dickerson thanked voters in the county for passing the law enforcement and safety sales tax that went into effect in October. Dickerson said the sales tax provided the available funding that made this upgrade possible.

Jay Forness covers education, county government and community events for The Cash-Book Journal. He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in multimedia journalism and has lived in Jackson for the past four years. He can be reached at cbjedit@socket.net.

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