After months of preparation and work, communications workers at the Tomball Police Department have finally settled back into their old work space, albeit with a new setup and new equipment.
"About two years ago I advised city council that we had to update our radio system within the next two years, because out old Motorola system had outlived its usefulness," Tomball Police Chief Robert Hauck said.
Hauck explained that the old system was quickly becoming obsolete, to the point that Motorola would eventually stop servicing the system altogether.
"I gave (city council) a two year heads up so we could really research this and find the best system for our needs at the best value," Hauck said. "(City council) was very supportive."
As the process moved along, Hauck said it became clear that it would make more sense to upgrade the communications center, consoles and equipment at the same time that the radio system was being upgraded.
They eventually agreed to go with a system from Telex and new radios from Kenwood. The system was designed to work with the Harris County system and is completely digital, with an analog backup. There are 24 radios in all, so disptachers and officers can communicate with other agencies if needed.
"There is complete redundancy in the entire system, so if something goes down, we still have communications," Hauck said.
The extra time also allowed city officials to save a substantial amount of money. Once Harris County agreed that other agencies using their radio system did not need to use Motorola equipment, it freed agencies to begin looking at other systems. An upgrade that was once was thought to cost upwards of $400,000, ultimately cost only around $240,000 thanks to a competitive bidding process.
Once work began, Hauck said they set up a temporary dispatch center in the department's conference room, while workers installed new drywall, equipment and a special floor so all wiring could be accessed through and ran underneath it.
Communications supervisor Evan Oualline said the new system has several benefits, including easier workability.
"I like it a lot," he said. "We are now set up for three work stations, instead of two and I like how we can access the consoles in the back to work on them or clean up, without having to move someone from their station."