In late 2020, the Riley County Police Department's radio system was upgraded from the old 'Very High Frequency System' (VHF) to the new 'Digital 800 Megahertz' system.
The upgrade allows first responders to communicate with each other during emergencies. Before the change, inter-jurisdictional communication was not possible with other local first responders.
The old radio system covered less than 50% of the county, the new radio system covers about 97%. This upgrade in communication gives Riley County First Responders a better way to serve our community.
The radio system is Project 25 (P25) compliant. P25 was developed by the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials International (APCO) to suit the standards for North American digital radio communications for federal, state, and local public safety organizations and allows for interoperable, multi-agency communications during an emergency.
This system significantly improved our radio communications throughout the county, outside of buildings, and reduced dead spots where the radio would not work properly.
P25 is a solution to intra-agency communication as it allows for interoperable, multi-agency communications during an emergency. The old radio system did not allow regional first responders to talk to each other. The new system allows first responders to more efficiently communicate between agencies while responding to active incidents.
The frequency we now use is 769-824 MHz. One of the benefits of the P25 digital radio over an analog radio is the ability to securely encrypt calls without impacting the coverage area. We now have an encryption key for each of the channels. Most of our talk groups (TG's) are now encrypted so responders can share specific scene information, protecting HIPPa sensitive materials.
If a citizen chooses to purchase the appropriate scanner they can still hear some of the daily chatter about non-call related items. Additionally, some fire and EMS TG's are not encrypted and citizens may hear the initial paging information.