Before the end of 2012, Boardman Township took steps to form a Council of Governments with Austintown Township. The move was made to update the township's radio system that serves the police department.
According to Boardman Township Administrator Jason Loree, both Boardman and Austintown were under an FCC mandate to switch to narrow band digital, a move that would cost each entity $1.7 million. The mandate requires they make the move to remain in compliance with FCC regulations for police department radio systems.
"Austintown's system needed replaced and our system was completely out of compliance. Ours was 25 years old and was at the end of its life span," Loree said. "By going together [with Austintown] we saved a lot over going it alone."
The council is made up of Loree, Boardman police Chief Jack Nichols, Austintown Township Administrator Mike Dockry and Austintown police Chief Robert Gavalier. The four men will get together soon and elect a fifth member to complete the board.
The new radio system will be a digital narrow band frequency on 800 mhz, connected through a microwave tower. Along with the tower, will be new radios for both police departments.
The new system will be encrypted, so old police radio scanners won't be able to pick up the new signal. Loree said he is certain some electronics companies will come out with new scanners in the coming years that will work.
While both police departments will be on the same system and frequency, the digital aspect allows them to remain separate. Should Boardman Police need to contact Austintown Police, it would merely require the flip of a switch.
The new radio system will strictly be for communications between police cars and dispatch. The fire department will remain on a UHF system, but police can still communicate with that department through the new system. The 9-1-1 system will not be affected.
Loree said a third entity will be coming on board this year as well. Mill Creek MetroParks Police has already met with the council and plans to get on the system once it is up and running.
"Once we are operational, we can offer it to any other neighboring agency to come on board," he said.
Loree said while Austintown did some financing for their share of the new system, Boardman Township paid for its share through seized funds that built up over the years.
"No taxpayer dollars were used," Loree said.