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Yakima County Sheriff's Deputies Receive New Radios That Will Help Communication In Remote Areas

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YAKIMA, WA.- Yakima County Sheriff's Deputies cover a lot of ground on a daily basis, one of the reasons they need equipment they can rely on in remote areas.

Deputies are usually responsible for covering the entire county, that's 4,600 square miles, which isn't always an easy task, especially with outdated radio systems that don't reach to remote parts of the county, but as we found out all that's changing.

A typical day for Deputy Justin Mallonee means covering ground all the way from Yakima to Sunnyside, possibly further if they're short staffed, making his job extremely difficult if his equipment doesn't work.  

"There have been times where we haven't been able to communicate at all and we've had to use our cell phones," Deputy Mallonee said.

     

The outdated handheld radios had trouble making calls back to dispatch in remotes areas like Naches and Cowiche, but those are just a few of the places that received little to no signal.

"We actually suffered anywhere between 40 to 50 percent loss in signal, so we had areas where we had no communication in," Chief Criminal Deputy John Durand explained.

    

Several years ago a Federal government mandate required a change in radio frequencies for law enforcement, altering how the radios work in remote areas.

"Our radios were set up to work on a specific frequency, so when we narrow banded that changed and made them a lot worse," Deputy Mallonee said.

    

However with the new radios, equipped with GPS and an emergency feature that sends an alert and location directly to dispatch, they  reach all the remote areas, making the job safer and more reliable.

"We can operate a lot more effectively, efficiently, and most importantly we can operate more safely, knowing that if we get into something in the spur of the moment we can call for help," Deputy Mallonee said.

The Sheriff's Office now has 90 new handheld radios. They'll also be looking into upgrading their radio towers and antennas around the county to improve signal quality even more.

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