Abilene police, fire departments to get communications system upgrade

By Brooke Crum

The Abilene City Council on Thursday approved the purchase of a new public safety communications system for the fire and police departments.

It will mark the first upgrade of the equipment since 2006, said Assistant Police Chief Doug Wrenn.

The price tag for upgrading both software and hardware is more than $1.3 million, most of which will be paid for through an interfund loan. The city allocated only $500,000 for the purchase in this year's budget.

The remainder of the cost will be covered through a loan from the city's fleet replacement fund, said City Manager Robert Hanna.

The city will take the money needed for the communications system from the fleet replacement fund and repay that amount over a period of three years, Hanna said. Ideally, the city would repay about $200,000 each year, starting next year, until it replenishes the fleet fund.

It will take roughly 12 months for the fire and police departments to convert to the new system, Wrenn said.

The city will acquire the system from Spillman Technologies, based in Salt Lake City. In addition to the upfront costs, the company charges for yearly system maintenance, but upgrades to the system are free, Wrenn said.

For example, after the first year the system is in place, Spillman will charge $149,350 for second-year maintenance, according to the contract.

Wrenn said the price was worth it because the police and fire departments would be able to stay up to date as technology progresses for years to come. The new software should allow police officers to complete incident reports faster and for detectives to receive reports more quickly, as well.

“We've certainly done our due diligence to assure ourselves that we're making the right decision,” he said.

A committee of fire and police department representatives formed last year to analyze the city's options in upgrading its public safety technology by evaluating various vendors based on price and technological advancement. The committee recommended Spillman Technologies.

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