911 Overhaul Makes for Strange Bedfellows in Paducah


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In an unusual move, the city of Paducah, Kentucky and McCracken County have agreed to split costs for a revamp of the region’s emergency response system. Both parties recognized that the current 911 system was established in landline days and does not meet their current needs. As reported by the Paducah Sun, the city had earmarked $19.7 million in bond proceeds for an aquatic center project, money that can now be redirected to the emergency services overhaul.

When the Paducah City Commission met in March, it prioritized its goals, ranking the 911 radio/tower project and its operational funding among their top twelve items. City officials added that there was also an urgent need to update the “land mobile radio system” which includes equipment ranging from handheld portable radios to base stations to cell towers. An increase in the number of cell towers in McCracken County could provide “potential radio coverage,” noted one official.  

Federal Engineering, Inc. has been engaged as a consultant on the project. The $52,000 fee will be evenly divided between the city and county. The firm will provide information about current costs and requirements and will chart progress that has been achieved since 2017, when it last assessed the region’s needs. 

Paducah Police Chief Brian Laird said telephone improvements, dispatch, and records management have seen great strides in the past few years, but commented, “The last project on that list created in 2017, is the radio system.”

Laird pointed out there are dead spots both within the city and county, and sometimes within individual buildings. He spoke favorably of establishing additional tower sites to combat connectivity issues, reported the Paducah Sun. 

Funding for large projects is always a challenge, Laird noted, saying the region had made good use of grants and funds available to it for the ongoing revisions. Paducah has been addressing items as it can, like replacing police radio units a few at a time rather than all at once, while Paducah and McCracken Counties sort out the matter of the region-wide emergency systems overhaul.

“We’ve got to get off the hump and just make a decision on this 911 and get something going on that,” stated Judge-Executive, Craig Clymer.

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