Cumberland County radio system project in motion, timeline set.

Published 9:39 am Tuesday, May 14, 2024

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The contracts have been signed and work is starting on the new Cumberland County radio system. And now we have a good idea about when the radios will be in and when the system will be fully active. 

During a public safety workshop on Monday, May 6, Cumberland supervisors got an update on the project and where things currently stand. Just as a refresher, supervisors in March signed off on the plan to partner with the Virginia State Police (VSP). Cumberland becomes a tenant on the VSP radio system, using their network. Now Cumberland purchases all of the needed equipment, but there are no new radio towers needed. They will use the current towers in Cumberland, Louisa and Prince Edward for signal.

As of May 6, the memorandum of understanding (MOU) contract has been signed and the county is officially a user on the network. According to Cumberland County Administrator Derek Stamey, a project kickoff meeting was held with VSP officials in April. Now the orders have been placed and the waiting begins. 

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“The radios will take about 12 weeks to arrive,” Stamey told supervisors. Cumberland based equipment testing will take place after that, he added, along with vehicle installation.

Now there will be a short period of transition, when fully switching between the old and new system, Stamey said, with State Police managing that. However, he emphasized, there will never be a time when Cumberland fire and law enforcement can’t communicate. It just may be a patchwork system for a very short period, right before the new system goes fully active. 

When will Cumberland County radio system go live? 

And now the big question. When will the new radio system go active? For that, we’ll have to wait a bit. 

“Really, we’re looking at Spring of 2025 for the system to be fully operational,” Stamey said. 

And when we say fully operational, it means the sheriff’s office units will be equipped with repeaters and wifi, as will EMS vehicles and animal control. Fire will also have seven vehicles with repeaters and all fire vehicles will be equipped with wifi. 

A quick note here, because we’ve been asked before. A radio repeater combines a radio receiver and a radio transmitter, receiving a signal and then retransmitting it over a larger distance. It helps two-way radio communication stretch further than the normal range of a single radio transmission. 

And those will help achieve Cumberland’s goal, which is covering virtually all of the county. 

“We’re hoping to achieve 99.9% coverage with this,” Stamey said. “Towers and repeaters are what’s going to make this work.” 

The new system will allow communication with up to 250 groups, which more than covers local needs. The county’s current radio system is used by virtually every department, from the sheriff’s office to dispatch, fire and rescue administration, volunteer fire departments, EMS providers, animal protection and public works. And the problem, much like the issue Prince Edward has been dealing with, is the fact there are areas in the county where it’s hard to get a signal. That’s not the best when getting a 911 call or a request for backup.