County police departments getting portable radio upgrade for half price

By Ralph Echtinaw

One police agency’s loss is St. Louis’ gain, as the police department is getting 16 new 800 Mhz portable radios for half price ($2,500 each).

An opportunity was “unexpectedly” presented to Gratiot County Central Dispatch to buy new Motorola APX6000 radios, Police chief Richard J. Ramereiz Jr. told city council last week.

An order for 107 radios was placed with Pro-Comm of Mt. Pleasant by another agency, Ramereiz continued. Pro-Com began to program the radios, and then the purchasing agency backed out of the order. Because these radios could not be sold as new, Motorola agreed to sell them at a deep discount if all radios were bought by a single entity.

Central Dispatch went to the Gratiot County Board of Commissioners and proposed that the county buy all 107 radios. Commissioners gave their approval, and the radios are being resold to Gratiot County police agencies at cost (with the exception of the Breckenridge Police Department, which declined to participate).

These are considered the “Cadillac” of radios, Ramereiz said. “The features that come with the new radios are features we need to meet future FCC requirements but come a steep price.” (Normally the radios sell for $5,000 each.)

St. Louis was going to have to buy new radios soon anyway, as the radios that officers have been using are more than 10 years old “and have antiquated technology that is having difficulty operating on the newer 800 MHz system,” Ramereiz said. Motorola doesn’t make parts for them either.

“I doubt an opportunity like this will happen again,” Ramereiz said.

Eight portable radios are assigned to full-time officers in St. Louis. Two are assigned as take-home radios for Sgt. Kristee Forshee and Ramereiz. The rest are assigned to reserve officers. They have four reserve officers now but Rich would like to hire more.

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