Since 2012, we have continued to improve our communications but there is still much more to be accomplished. Although we have upgraded our communications center, we must improve the Clay County Tower with the necessary Motorola equipment to give us coverage throughout Clay County.
(Editor’s note: The sheriff’s letter originally was submitted to the Clay County Commission.The commissioners voted 3-0 Sept. 12 to approve lease-purchase of the Motorola equipment. See story, pg. 1.)
We are currently operating under “collateral coverage” in most of the county under a system never designed with Clay County in mind. Additionally, agencies we dispatch for (not including Excelsior Springs)* are also transitioning to the 800MHz radio system that further degrades the services we provide to the public.
Aside from public safety being at risk due to the lack of reliable communications in the county, we must also be concerned with current events throughout our country.
We have seen so much violence against law enforcement in the news lately, including the incidents in Dallas, Baton Rouge and the City of Kansas City, Kansas. However, we must never forget when Officer Baldwin from the Pleasant Valley Police Department was shot in the face while conducting a traffic stop on Interstate 35 in 2014 or the two separate incidents where Clay County Sheriff’s Deputies were actively being shot at during vehicle pursuits over the last few months**.
In 2016 alone (as of Aug. 17), there have been 76 Line of Duty Deaths in our country. The top three causes were gunfire (36), automobile accidents (10) and vehicular assaults (9). A disturbing part of these statistics is the fact that our deputies drive hundreds of thousands miles a year collectively and there are only 10 deaths related to driving (nationally) compared to the 36 deaths related to gunfire.
Although violent crimes against the public have gone down in Clay County, we are seeing a trend of violent crimes and/or threats against law enforcement. The saddening part of the continued violence against public safety is the threats made against fire department and emergency medical personnel.
Not only does this equipping of our tower with the necessary equipment improve radio communications, but the tower itself is related to the Consolidated Dispatch project that Clay County and many municipalities are engaged in. Agreements are nearing completion for review by each partner agency, legislation is being pursued to allow Clay County to establish an Emergency Services Board, and a budget request will soon be made to begin a mid-year implementation of staff for the Consolidated Dispatch Center.
Motorola has gone as far as offering zero percent interest for the first year of the lease (if signed and executed by Sept. 15). Since there is already support for this project, there should be no reason to wait until next year to start. However, our first payment would be due two years from contract execution if we were not able to pay for this project with the 2017 budget.
Lastly, early payment of financing is allowed with no interest if paid off in one year.
The terms offered by Motorola will be in effect until Sept. 15. The project is very important, not only to public safety but also to the public we serve. Motorola’s proposal hasn’t changed since July 2015 and they have extended their offer with terms that are rarely heard of. I strongly urge you to consider entering a contract with Motorola to complete this project by Sept. 15.
– Paul Vescovo III,
Sheriff, Clay County
* As noted in the Sept. 12 edition of the Excelsior Springs Standard, police and fire departments here are looking at options to transition to 800 MHz radios. They currently use VHF equipment, which can’t communicate with 800 MHz radios.
** Sheriff’s deputies reported shots fired at them during their pursuit of a stolen car into Excelsior Springs.