Denton PD switches to analog and digital radios for better communication

Denton PD switches to analog and digital radios for better communication

Denton PD switches to analog and digital radios for better communication
June 13
21:10 2017

Julia Contarelli | Design Editor

The Denton Police Department received new portable radios with analog and digital technology. Denton PD switched from Motorola XTS5000 analog radios to Motorola APX6000 radios, which receive both digital and analog signal.

Denton PD plans on upgrading to a digital system within a couple of years, once funding becomes available.

“We were using the same radio technology that they used back in the ’50s when two-way radios were just invented,” Denton Police spokesman Bryan Cose said.

Denton County switched to the new technology in June 2016. Until last month, Denton was only using analog radios because they weren’t in county’s previous system. 

The city currently has an analog radio system and shares communication with the fire department, UNT and Texas Woman’s University. The new radios allow Denton PD to communicate with Denton County on the digital system.

“Analog and digital are both types of waves,” Zack Andy, an IT technician at UNT said. “An analog signal is continuous, while the digital signal is more precise.”

Other cities that didn’t upgrade their radios at the time were Lewisville, Highland Village, Flower Mound, Lake Dallas, Frisco and the Roanoke Police Department.

Cose said that the new portable radios cost approximately $1 million and were distributed to all 171 sworn officers, several non-sworn positions and all police department vehicles equipped with a mobile radio. Denton PD used the previous radios for over 15 years.

Along with being smaller and lighter, the portable radio is worn on the belt while the mobile radio is vehicle mounted. 

“For now, their functionality is exactly the same as the previous models,” Cose said. “But once the changeover to digital occurs, the difference will be much more pronounced.”

The nationwide transition to analog and digital radios began in February with the United States Capitol Police (USCP) in Washington, according to a press release from their department. USCP’s radio signal is now encrypted.

Cose said there is a possibility that once the overall system switches to digital, certain radio channels could be encrypted, allowing secure transmissions on critical incidents.  

Police scanners can be purchased online for as little as $20.

“We realize bad guys can get police scanners,” Cose said. “That’s not very good when you are trying to potentially take down a bad guy and he knows your every move. That is the main reason why.”

The previous radio waves did not cover the whole city of Denton. Police officers said they were unable to contact any department when they were out of range.

“Consider that this is not just missing a call, this could be someone’s life in danger,” Denton Police spokesman Shane Kizer said.

Kizer has worked with the department for over 20 years, and once found a crime suspect when he was by himself and without a radio signal. 

“I couldn’t tell backup how to get there while I was fighting this guy,” Kizer said. “Those are the situations we are hopefully trying to eliminate.”

Featured Image: Officer Jay Seiler makes a radio check in front of the Denton Police Department. He has not yet received the new digital and analog radio. Julia Contarelli

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James Norman

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2 Comments

  1. Chief
    Chief June 16, 09:43

    Please double-check your facts. Lewisville activated their digital radio system in April of this year. Not sure what that sentence means, “Other cities that didn’t upgrade their radios at the time were Lewisville, Highland Village, Flower Mound, Lake Dallas, Frisco and the Roanoke Police Department.”
    Russ Kerbow, Police Chief
    Lewisville Police Department

    Reply to this comment
  2. Chief Kerbow
    Chief Kerbow June 16, 09:49

    While it is true that in June 2016 Lewisville had not switched to digital, we did so in April 2017. We began actively working toward a new digital system in 2015.

    Reply to this comment

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