Glendale Community College will soon step in line with a federal mandate requiring police units nationwide to use digital, narrow-frequency radio systems this year.
The college's police chief, Gary Montecuollo, said his department waited until now to proceed in order to get the most out of the $150,000 expenditure.
“We waited until now to get the best possible price,” he said.
The Federal Communications Commission required all police agencies to switch to a narrow frequency by 2013 to face less interference from competing or intruding communication systems.
The new radios must also have the capability to be encrypted to prevent outsiders from listening in.
The Glendale Police Department and other local police agencies made the switch to digital radios in early 2012. Their tactical and undercover operations are encrypted.
College police would use the encrypted feature during a tactical emergency, such as an earthquake or in responding to a shooting, Montecuollo said.
Officials have the next six months to buy the new radios, which cost from $5,000 for portable ones to $8,000 for dispatch radios. The first batch will consist of 17 radios.
And the money will not come from of the college's General Fund, which is under immense budget pressure.
“Thankfully, the former police administration did a good job of setting aside some money,” Montecuollo said.
He hopes to retain use of the current 20 radios for emergency operations, but they can communicate with each other only within a two-mile radius.
“Beyond that, we will not be able to communicate,” he said.