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Radio issues have been resolved

First responders formerly unable to be heard over dispatchers

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FIXED— Howard County Sheriff Jerry Asher said the technichal issue that dropped first responder’s messages to dispatch has been solved.

After a series of issues with the radio system at the Howard County Sheriff’s Department, officials say the problems have been solved.

The problems caused communication difficulties that left first responders and dispatchers unable to hear or speak to one another. Dispatchers have been unable to clearly hear first responders relaying information multiple times over the past year.

In a press release, Howard County Sheriff Jerry Asher said the problems were identified in June. One problem with the system was an old component on a tower that needed to be replaced. Another was an old server that was not working properly. The most concerning problem, however, was a programming issue that left first responders unable to transmit over dispatchers on the radio system.

Asher said this “pre-emption priority” was not known about previously but was resolved with a software update that will place first responder transmissions as priority. Technicians from EF Johnson, which provided the county with the radio system, and J&K Communications, which service the radios, updated the software on Nov. 10. Asher said it seems like the issues have been resolved.

“We have taken this issue seriously, addressed many of the concerns with some of the above noted repairs,” Asher said in the press release. “We are hopeful that this new software update will take care of the most consistent issue that has arisen in the last several months.”

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Even though the new software should resolve many of the issues, Duane Anderson, president of EF Johnson, said there could still be more work to complete on the radio system.

“While the many complexities of this type of system will inevitably present technical issues, our companies have consistently, with urgency, collaborated closely to meet and resolve challenges as they’ve been encountered,” Anderson said. “As a result, collaborating with local officials, we have uncovered root causes of recent issues reported by Howard County and initial solutions have subsequently been implemented. We expect the remaining updates needed to resolve these issues to be completed within the next two weeks.”

Jon Shew II, president of J&K Communications, said the company is committed to keeping the radio system functioning and in good repair.

“We remain steadfast in our support of Howard County and greatly value the lives of the first responders we serve and the communities they protect,” Shew said. “Given the criticality of the communications enabled by the system, the utmost priority will continue to be placed on working together to provide Howard County a high-quality, reliable communications system, now and in the future.”