AUBURN — The director of DeKalb Central Communications did not get the radio system he wanted last week, and that didn’t change June 29.
The DeKalb County Commissioners did grant one request for director Brian Humbarger on June 29, however.
The commissioners voted to allow two dispatchers per shift to carry firearms at the Central Communications Center north of Auburn. Humbarger and his deputy director also can carry weapons.
Humbarger had approached the commissioners recently to say he felt the center is vulnerable under a county policy that banned weapons inside the building.
Commissioners approved the change by a 2-1 vote, with Commissioner Don Grogg opposed. In the earlier discussion, he said the communications center already is highly secure.
Dispatchers carrying firearms must meet the training qualifications of the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy.
Commissioners also reviewed last week’s decision to buy a new Zetron radio system for Central Communications at a price of $292,282. They chose it over the equipment Humbarger favored — a Motorola system priced at $599,000.
Humbarger said June 29 he wished to apologize “if I came off disrespectful at the last meeting” when advocating strongly for the Motorola system. He added, “My delivery and presentation to you guys could have been better. … I’ve learned my lesson.”
He added that he and his staff “will be utmost professionals and make this work no matter how it goes.”
Ted Hurley, a representative for J&K Communications of Columbia City, said his company would plan to install the Zetron system in October and give the county 60 days to try it. If satisfied, the county could pay for it in January 2021, he said.
“You wanted a lot of time to make sure it worked before you paid for it,” Hurley said.
Commissioners also heard from Auburn Fire Chief Michael VanZile, who asked that they delay buying the radio system “to make sure that the right decision is being made.”
“Something just kind of seems off. … I’m not sure if we have an apple and an orange” in comparing the Zetron and Motorola systems, VanZile said.
VanZile serves on an advisory board for Central Communications, but said he was speaking only for himself.
“It’s funny that none of us know anything about it,” he said about the advisory board and the radio system purchase.
Jack Smith, the information technology specialist for county government, said the Motorola system had an advantage because Steuben County uses it, and Noble County may adopt it soon. That would allow DeKalb dispatchers to operate from either of those counties if DeKalb’s system failed.
“I would consider that a great selling point,” Smith said. In choosing a system, he added, “I don’t envy you on this, at all, because it’s a lot of money involved.”
Smith and Humbarger suggested the county might be able to buy the radio system with money from the federal CARES Act for COVID-19 relief.
Auditor Jan Bauman said she does not see how it would fit into the six categories of funding in the CARES Act.
“It may be a stretch, but it’s worth trying,” Grogg said.
“I don’t think it’s something we should depend on,” Commissioners President William Hartman said. He added that he learned that Grant County is satisfied with its new Zetron equipment from J&K Communications.
Later June 29, the commissioners discussed the pros and cons of hiring a code enforcement officer to handle complaints about nuisances in the county.