Summers Co. deputies concerned about safety because of old radio - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

Summers Co. deputies concerned about safety because of old radios

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HINTON, W. Va (WVVA)-- An area sheriff's department is concerned about officers' safety because of spotty radio coverage.

Summers County sheriff's deputies tell WVVA their police radios, both portable and in their vehicles, can be unreliable when they're out in remote parts of the county-- meaning they could have trouble calling for backup when they need it most.

Deputies tell us the lack of signal on their old, analog radios could put their lives in danger if they don't get the upgrade they desperately need. 

But they say they have had boxes and boxes of updated radios, bought with grant money, in storage for five years-- unusable. In order to work, they tell us the county's 911 center needs to upgrade their system, too. They want to know why that's taking so long.

We spoke with Summers County 911 director Steve Lipscomb, who tells us it's not an easy fix.

He says they need more towers, and more frequencies to make the new radios operational, but they're working on it.

"We are testing this now to see what parts of the county we have good coverage in," said Lipscomb, "and what parts we don't. And we'll start rolling it out slowly."

Sgt. TJ Cochran hopes this happens sooner rather than later.

"I just hate to see that one of us would get hurt when we've got all this good equipment here going to waste," he said.

The 911 director says they hope to be able to start using the newer radios by the summer.

But deputies say the longer they wait, the more chances they'll have to take at putting themselves and the people they service in danger.

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