MEDINA — The Medina Police Department will receive new body and cruiser cameras, as well as state-of-the art radios, purchases that will bring the department up to the equipment standards of surrounding departments.
In all, the new equipment will cost about $280,000, all coming from the department’s carry-forward funds.
Medina City Council unanimously approved Monday night the purchase of the new cameras and radios. The camera package from WatchGuard of Allen, Texas, will include servers, software, licensing, 20 body cameras and 12 cruiser cameras to replace the department’s system, which Chief Ed Kinney said was “obsolete.”
It will cost $81,412.50.
Kinney said the company that formerly made the body cameras, Vista, quit producing them.
“We’re down to eight or nine (cameras),” he said. “This caught me by surprise.”
He expects the new cameras to last about five years.
The department’s UHF radio communication system is also largely outdated, he said. Its technology is from several decades ago.
The new P25 digital radio system will cost about $201,505 from Motorola Solutions Co., of Chicago.
The package includes digital radio upgrades in dispatch, mobile digital radios and portable digital radios.
Ohio operates its P25 system called MARCS (multi-agency radio communication system), but charges $10 per unit per month. It would cost the city about $8,000 per year to use this system.
Medina County Sheriff’s Office deploys a countywide P25 system, which it implemented about two years ago. The sheriff’s office has committed to allow Medina police, Medina Township police, Montville Township police, Life Support Team and the Medina Fire Department to join the system for free.
Kinney said he expects he will accept the offer. He said he and Medina Mayor Dennis Hanwell will meet with Sheriff Tom Miller soon to discuss the matter.
Kinney said its current UHF system is degrading to the point where there are “dead spots” where officers are not able to communicate with dispatchers and other officers. Now that Medina police is covering Lafayette Township as well, it’s further compounding problems.
“Any investment into the current end-of-life system is not financially prudent,” Kinney said. “We’re at a crucial stage.”
The new P25 radios are heavy duty and also weatherproof, Kinney said.
He expects them to last 15 to 20 years.
“Technology will move on before they break,” Kinney said.
Hanwell said it’s a federal mandate to eventually do away with the UHF systems.
“Everyone (eventually) needs to be digital,” he said.
Kinney said the Summit, Cuyahoga and Wayne county sheriffs have all upgraded to digital systems.
“We’re on an island,” he said. “It’s at a critical point right now.”