Back in August, the armed robbery of the Copiah Bank on Terry Road in Byram sparked a manhunt for three people. The offenders had driven north on Terry Road to Jackson, but Byram's communication with Hinds County deputies was compromised.
"Myself and one of the supervisors of the sheriff's department that day basically parked our trucks next to each other. He had his county radio, I had my city radio, we relayed information to all officers in the field," Byram Police Chief Luke Thompson says.
Byram Police cannot communicate with Hinds County deputies on the radios. When the City of Byram purchased their 60 radios earlier this year for their brand new police department, they got on the statewide communication system. The goal is to get all agencies on that system, so they can all communicate. But Hinds County is not yet on that system.
"I can talk to folks on the coast, Harrison County, Gulfport PD, Biloxi. I can talk to those people but I can't talk to the Hinds County deputy that's riding on Siwell Road right now," Thompson says.
3 On Your Side has obtained a chain of letters between Chief Luke Thompson and Hinds County E-O-C Director Jimmie Lewis. Through the correspondence back in June, Chief Thompson asked the county to supply the Mississippi Wireless Communication Commission with the Byram Police radio I.D. numbers so they could be programmed over-the-air. This would save time and prevent jeopardizing the security of Hinds County's system.
In his correspondence, Lewis responds, "I have been authorized by the Board of Supervisors to allow Airwave, LLC to program these radios."
Stacey Stowers of Airwave holds several contracts with Hinds County that pay out millions. One of his subcontractors, Nathan Hargrove of Northstar Wireless, originally purchased dozens of radios for the Byram Police Department from a company that Hargrove sold radios for. Byram rejected those radios.
Chris Epps heads up the Wireless Commission. He says the commission could program Byram's radios, but they would need the radio I.D. numbers and other necessary information from the county in order to do that.
So the situation remains the same. Meanwhile, Byram Police hope their next response to an emergency isn't hampered by a failure to communicate.
Hinds County Board of Supervisors President George Smith says a technician could be sent to Byram to program the radios. He also says the county should be up and running on the statewide system before year's end.
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