The Longwood University Police Department (LUPD) has earned a grant totaling $25,000 to upgrade their handheld radios for communications between the various law enforcement and public safety departments in the Farmville community – including the LUPD, Farmville Police Department, Prince Edward County Sheriff’s Office and Hampden-Sydney Police Department.
The grant through the Department of Criminal Justice Services is the only one available to law enforcement departments serving higher education institutions and recognizes LUPD’s commitment to public safety on and off campus.
This grant enables the department to modernize their handheld radios from analog to digital signals, which are more secure, allow clearer transmissions and are compatible with other law enforcement organizations. This allows real-time communications during response situations among all three organizations and across multiple jurisdictions. The Prince Edward County Sheriff’s Office has completed the transition while the Farmville PD is completing the upgrade, which was also funded by a grant.
LUPD Lieutenant Stuart Raybold emphasized the importance of communication with the other agencies considering LUPD’s status as an agency with concurrent jurisdiction with the town of Farmville.
“Most of us are sworn deputy sheriffs with Prince Edward County,” Raybold said. “[We] kind of need to be able to communicate back and forth with those agencies, and not just have a common dispatch center for us in Farmville.”
The Department of Criminal Justice Services, the provider of the grant, serves to “promote public safety in the Commonwealth” and find proper solutions to preserve and enhance public safety and maintain effectiveness throughout the criminal justice system.
According to Raybold, the grant was awarded due to the LUPD’s special relationship within the town of Farmville.
“We’re very unique, even in the state,” Raybold said. “Most colleges only have authority for the police department on the campus roads adjacent to the campus…that got changed for Longwood years ago because the student body has such an impact on the town.”
Raybold said the LUPD has been dispatched to handle calls anywhere in Prince Edward and have been the first or second units on calls in the county. “It’s rare, but it happens,” he said.
Lieutenant Christopher Moss of the Farmville Police Department verified that the LUPD “often backs us up on calls.” He also explained that the equipment changes are a “constant upgrade,” and this transition will greatly improve the communications and coordination with all three partners, which will ultimately have a positive impact on the entire community.
Farmville Emergency Communications Center Manager Jackie Gilbert emphasized the importance of communication between the departments and police forces, calling radios the “most important tool” that both the dispatch center and the agencies have. Farmville’s dispatch center has already made the switch to digital technology.
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