Old police scanners officially offline

Published 6:31 pm Saturday, May 9, 2015

Mower County law enforcement has officially gone digital.

As of last week, the county’s law enforcement are now fully on the 800 megahertz radio system called the Allied Radio Matrix for Emergency Response, commonly referred to as ARMER.

While the system gives emergency responders more communication connections with their state colleagues, it also means the ways the public listened to police scanners in Mower County has changed.

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Analog and VHF scanners are now obsolete, but the sheriff’s office now hosts a www.broadcastify.com stream that will directly carry scanner traffic for the sheriff’s office, the Austin Police Department and the Austin Fire Department, which includes the small town departments, under the title, “Mower County Public Safety.”

People can also purchase and operate digital trunking scanners.

Mower’s scanner traffic had previously been posted online by a private citizens with VHF scanners, but those feeds — like all VHF scanners — went dark last week.

The county officially finished switching from the VHF system to 800 MHz, a digital system used by most other counties in the state. The Mower County board previously approved the switch to join ARMER. Through grants, the county previously purchased about 120 radio units for law enforcement, fire, EMT officials, and rural EMT and fire officials.

Sgt. Dave Pike, who served as the system manager for the radio transition, described the digital signal as clearer and crisper, but that’s only one of the benefits for local law enforcement. The digital system is used by much of the state, so it allows agencies to communicate across county boundaries.

Mower’s feed can be found at www.broadcastify.com/listen/ctid/1359. Broadcastify also features apps for smartphones.