The West Virginia University Department of Public Safety recently received radios that will significantly increase its ability to quickly and easily communicate with other agenciesboth locally and across the state.

WVU is the first university in the state to receive the radios, though officials are also working with other state universities to assess their needs, said James W. Spears, cabinet secretary for the West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety (DMAPS) and the states Homeland Security adviser.

WVU Police have received 43 hand-held, digital radios. The radios cost $2,200 each. Funding was provided by federal Homeland Security grants.

These radios are state-of-the-art,Spears said.They are part of the interoperable communication system which will tie together all the first responders across West Virginia, including law enforcement, fire departments, EMS and others. We recognize that WVU is a city within a city. With such large numbers, especially on game days, the need to react quickly is paramount.

The radios are P25 -compliant, which means they meet todays federal communications standards. The devices are reliable, flexible and clear, Spears said.

In the past, radios would operate on a certain frequency, and anyone could override a conversation; sometimes you would have, for example, five or six people trying to talk at the same time,Spears said.These radios can be keyed to a talk group of individuals or agencies. They have multiple capabilities.

WVU Police Officer Erika Johnson said the devices also provide an easy-to-reach emergency button that is tied directly in to the Monongalia County 911 communications center. Jason Clawges of the countys 911 center has conducted classes to train WVU Police officers on the use of the radios.

Were pleased to have these radios in the hands of all our officers, WVU Police Chief Bob Roberts said, noting the radios are in use by other Monongalia County agencies.These radios allow us to more quickly and easily communicate with the Morgantown Police and Monongalia County Sheriffs departments, the state police, EMS and fire departments.

In addition, the radios allow WVU Police to communicate with other officers statewide, Roberts noted. For example, an officer on the WVU campus in Morgantown could speak to an officer in Charleston or at the WVU Institute of Technology in Montgomery.

Many people deserve credit for the acquisition of this equipment, from Secretary Spears, Terry Miller and Michael Todorovich of DMAPS and Dr. Bill Ramsey, state EMS director, to local agency leaders such as Ron Kyle, 911 director, Chief Phil Scott of Morgantown, Chief Deputy Al Kisner of the sheriffs department and many more,Roberts said.We have all worked together to increase the safety of our public.