Despite some high costs, Ford County Commissioners approved several improvements and amendments to the Ford County Communications department.

Ford County Communications is the dispatch hub for 911, fire and EMS and sheriff's office as well as dispatch for the Dodge City Police Department and departments in Spearville, Bucklin, Wright and Howell.

The biggest expenditure comes with a 5-year lease agreement with Motorola for a new Computer Automated Dispatch system for $295,842.

"The radio agreement would be for data sharing through the CAD system that files names, times and locations," emergency communications director Elliot Linke said. "It would store that information and immediately send that off to the proper department of where it needs to go.

"I know with communications we have the CAD, but with the sheriff's office for example they have a different jail platform they use and the same with fire and EMS. This would essentially make one common platform that would send the date to the appropriate department."

Initially the commissioners were skeptical due to the high cost.

"With that price it better be the best thing since sliced bread," commissioner Ken Snook told Linke.

According to Linke, the software for the CAD would eventually pay for its self in terms of man-hours used for things such as billing and jail booking.

"I know as of right now it takes an hour and a half to book someone into the jail," Linke said. "With this system it would cut 45 minutes from that booking time.

"It makes us better make the people we have hired and trained more effective by getting deputies back on the street quicker."

Chairman Shawn Tasset asked Linke if there was any real way to see the cost benefits.

"I hear that all the time 'Oh it will pay for itself,'" Tasset said.

Sheriff Bill Carr said that it would already cut close to $11,000 from his budget with the new system.

"I would agree that would be about the same with the other departments as well," Commissioner Chris Boys said. "It's just the initial cost is very high."

The commissioners then discussed this would be a big part of the 800-megahertz upgrade to the radio system that at the time of initial estimates cost upwards of $8 million.

"This has definitely been lowered since that time," Boys said. "With Elliot going through everything piece by piece that number has dramatically been lowered."

"I'll go ahead and bite the bullet," Tasset said.

Tasset then made the motion for the 5-year lease agreement for the CAD system to which Boys seconded.

"Again like I said," Snook said. "Sliced bread."

The commissioners approved the lease agreement unanimously.

The commissioners also approved electrical service work for the new communications facility for $9,275; approved a change order to the existing AIS server for audio recording for a $58,206.79 and approved a quote for recorders for $99,355.85.

They also approved a mass notification agreement for a new Code Red System for $11,822.

"Think of it like the Amber Alerts," Linke said. "The Code Red System has a lot better and smoother deployment and also eliminates any multi-language issues we would have.

"If someone signs up and they need Spanish, they get Spanish.

"There would even be an app that can be used in situations like the wildfires.

"The chief could use the app for a specific location within the county and send an alert for people to evacuate for example."

The mass notification agreement was approved unanimously.