INDIANOLA, Iowa -- For years, radio communication between dispatch and Indianola police was spotty, at best.
“The guys would literally have to take their radio off and hold it up in the air so the antennae would reach a signal and they could communicate,” said Indianola Police Chief Dave Button.
That was if they could even get a signal on their 17-year-old police radios. Button said there were dead spots throughout town, making the lack of coverage not only an inconvenience, but a public safety issue.
“It’s unbelievable that it got to that point, but it's just, we're amazed at the improvement the new radios have made,” he said.
As of this month, officers can talk back and forth and hear dispatch loud and clear.
“This gives us a lot more confidence to be able to get a hold of our other patrol officers that we're working with,” said Sgt. Justin Keller.
The officers can thank the community for a big part of that confidence and peace of mind.
“A lot of people just didn't know the state of the radios and how old they really were. So once we got the word out and what we were raising the money for, it just kind of took off,” explained I Back the Blue committee member Tara Rehmeier.
The I Back the Blue campaign started collecting money last December, and businesses and citizens young and old pitched in to raise $36,000. Along with some grants, the department had enough money to buy 20 portable radios--one for each officer--and five mobile radios for the department’s patrol vehicles.
“It's just like having their gun, it's something that they absolutely had to have. So to be involved was an honor,” said committee member Angie Ortlund.
The men and women in blue are honored that the people they’re sworn to protect made sure they have their most basic lifeline.
“If we can't communicate, we can't function. It is as basic a piece of equipment as we have, and now we have some really nice ones,” said Button.
If you want to help the campaign reach its goal of $40,000, you’ll find more information on their Facebook page.