Pelham police chief requests P-25 radio system

Published 10:06 am Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Pelham Police Chief Larry Palmer requests a new Motorola P-25 700 MHz radio system, by Allcomm Wireless, for the city. (Contributed)

Pelham Police Chief Larry Palmer requests a new Motorola P-25 700 MHz radio system, by Allcomm Wireless, for the city. (Contributed)

By JESSA PEASE / Staff Writer

PELHAM— Representatives from Allcomm Wireless, Inc., Birmingham 911 and Pelham Police Chief Larry Palmer addressed the Pelham City Council Dec. 21 requesting a new P-25 radio system for the department.

“As you are all aware, our current radio system is old technology and in need of critical upgrades,” Palmer wrote in a Dec. 9 email to the City Council. “It has been determined that over the next three years along the city would be required to spend approximately $800,000 to preform the needed upgrades.”

While the City Council was preparing budgets for the year, Palmer said he started researching solutions to the current issues with Pelham’s radio technology. The system he found is the Motorola P-25 700 MHz radio system.

The P-25 radio system, by Allcomm Wireless, is compatible with radio systems being utilized across a large portion of the state, according to Palmer.

The statewide system is compiled of five core owners in Huntsville, Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Talladega and Calhoun County. Pelham would join under the Birmingham core group, managed by Birmingham 911 director Greg Silas.

“The idea is we were all islands,” Silas said at the Dec. 21 meeting. “Being in public safety for this many years, we signed agreements with each other to sign up because we needed to be able to communicate.”

Silas used the 2011 tornadoes in Tuscaloosa as an example. With the P-25 system all the users can communicate with one another when agencies arrive on the scene to help in emergency situations.

“The goal is for us to work together as a community,” Silas said. “Public safety does that very well.”

This radio system would not be limited to the police department. It can be utilized citywide in each of the departments or schools.

The system is designed to provide radio coverage to any city of Pelham department needing or requiring a radio system, according to Palmer’s email. Talk groups can be established for each department and discipline in the city.

If Pelham were to accept this proposal, Pelham’s portion would be about $2.2 million with annual maintenance fees starting in the second year of the system’s acceptance.

This amount includes numbers for Helena and Alabaster, who are currently considering the P-25 radio system project, according to Palmer.

There is also currently a 40 percent discount included in the proposal, but acceptance would need to be decided before the end of the year to receive the pricing discount.

Palmer said Hoover recently signed a contract to purchase the P-25 system, and Vestavia, along with several municipalities in the area, are already utilizing the P-25 radio system.

The system will take about a year to build out, according to Palmer, and there are some price deferment options that could make the first payment due after the second year of granting approval of the contract.

He said there are also financing options available through Motorola for this system.

“This is something that is very important and very near and dear to my heart,” Palmer told the council. “I want when police officers pick up a microphone and say, ‘Help,’ that we hear him no matter where he is. I don’t want to worry about coverage. I can make this goal happen by being a part of this.”