New radio system could end dangerous dead zones in Greeneville

GREENEVILLE (WJHL) – After years of dealing with a failing communication system, the Board of Mayor and Alderman in Greeneville signed off to purchase a new one.

City Administrator for the Town of Greeneville, Todd Smith, explains.

“What’s been the issue is in buildings with thick walls, like hospitals and schools and industrial areas, the communication system can’t penetrate those walls. So there’s areas of Greeneville that have dead spots,” Smith said.

He said the police department has faced the most problems.

“It’s a danger for our police officers. There’s been instances where they’ve tried to call out and get help and they’ve not been able to get out to dispatch to get help,” Smith said.

One example of the radio system failing is captured Officer Dustin Winter’s body camera.

Greeneville Police Captain Michael Crum said Officer Winter was called to Takoma Hospital because of a man acting erratically.

“Subject that was strung on drugs pretty bad and had tried to get into a room in the ER with a small child and so action had to be taken quickly,” Captain Crum said.

The body camera footage shows Officer Winter calling for backup at least twice.

No one ever heard the call.

Luckily, Capt. Crum said hospital staff were there to help.

“Had they not been there, had this been alongside the road at night, there’s not much doubt that this would have been a death somewhere either the officer or the suspect,” he explained.

Smith says the new $1.7 million system, called the Tennessee Advanced Communications Network, will fix the problem.

“We are getting ready to sign an agreement both with the highway patrol and with Motorola to tap into their network,” Smith said.

This will require a new tower to be built at Greeneville’s Fire Station No. 4 on Mt. Bethel Road.

“This solution we think will fix it in the long term. For a long, long time,” Smith said.

Construction on the new system is scheduled to begin next year. It should take about 9 months to complete.

In the meantime, Motorola is providing new radio devices to the police and fire departments.

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