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The Jefferson City Police and Fire departments are taking steps to improve internal and external communication.

The agencies are planning to purchase upgraded handheld radios for officers and firefighters, which would allow the departments to talk to one another.

The new radios would allow for more contemporary communication and address a need within the Police Department, JCPD Chief Roger Schroeder said during Thursday's Jefferson City Public Safety Committee meeting.

For instance, he said, in April 2020 an officer was shot and two suspects fled. Cole County Sheriff's Department officers assisted, as did the Missouri Highway Patrol with a helicopter.

In that instance, officers weren't able to communicate with the other agencies in real time when looking for the suspect, Schroeder said.

"That's a very real example that occurred 11 months ago," Schroeder said. "This type of radio would have helped us."

JCPD intends to purchase 59 portable radios throughout 2021 with different funding sources.

The Jefferson City Council will review a request from the departments, with the support of the Public Safety Committee, for 44 radios through funding from the half-cent city sales tax.

The other 15 radios would be funded through reimbursement from Cole County for 911 improvements the city previously paid for.

Of the $235,000 request, $150,000 would go to 31 police radios and $85,000 would go to 13 firefighter radios.

The firefighter radios are different, but would allow for the same ability to communicate with other agencies, Fire Chief Matt Schofield said.

The firefighter radios are larger, painted green, and designed to handle higher temperatures and water exposure.

These radios would be the last step to get the Jefferson City Fire Department to one radio per firefighter. Each radio would be assigned to an individual, which should make them last longer, Schofield said.

"Then most importantly, when we call them back in an event like a tornado, we're able to communicate with everyone, not having to share radio. So, for us, that's a huge win," he said.

Schofield said in the future he'd like to update the mobile radios in JCFD's trucks and the radio system.

SWAT training

The Jefferson City Police Department is seeking to provide Type 3 SWAT training for 18 officers.

Type 3 training, provided by Government Training Institute Inc., is for terrorist environments, according to information on the GTI website.

The two-week training would cost $2,200 per officer.

Schroeder said the funding would come through the Police Department's budget for training and the Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission Fund.

"We think it's very important, particularly in the state capital," he said.

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