Spurred by Trooper's Death, Police Seek Radio Equipment
State police officials are moving ahead with plans to purchase portable radio equipment plans which were spurred by the recent murder of a Ritchie County trooper.
Sgt. D.R. Smith, commander of the Wood County detachment, said state police Superintendent Thomas Kirk and other high-ranking department officials have told the various county detachments they are looking into getting more modem and portable radio equipment for troopers.
"We've been told that they are looking to find state-of-the-art equipment," Smith said. "Right now, they're looking at the most economical and practical ways to get the best possible."
Kirk said during the weekend he would find money in other parts of the Department of Public Safety's budget to purchase portable radio gear or body communications gear which would allow troopers to communicate with other officers when away from their cruisers.
The move was in part prompted by the April 8 murder of Trooper Larry G. Hacker who was gunned down while answering a complaint call near Pullman in rural Ritchie County. The shooting took place after Hacker had left his vehicle to check a truck in the road.
Smith said the department is checking into the matter carefully.
He noted that some of the current equipment in state police cruisers is extremely old.
"Some of the replacement parts can't be purchased anymore," he said. "So when a radio goes down, we have to cannibalize another one to keep it operating."
Smith said the department is looking at different means.
They could go with the multi-channel equipment or they also could go with the portable body equipment which the trooper can wear on his body," Smith said. "That would require a charger in the car to keep that equipment operational."
During the Hacker incident, Kirk was in a department helicopter circling the area, but he was unable to communicate with officers on the ground.
"The new equipment wouldn't allow that to happen," Smith said. "If we get that, we would all be able to communicate with each other in that type of situation."
Smith said when the department purchases the new equipment it will make sure it isn't getting outdated materials. He said an exact time frame has not been set yet.
"They're being careful to make sure that we don't get something which will be outdated by the time everybody gets it," Smith said. "The department is assessing how much time and money it will take to get everybody the equipment in the shortest amount of time."