DESTIN, Fla. (WKRG) — The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office said deputies have trouble contacting dispatch or calling for backup in some areas of Destin.
“One of the biggest issues we have right now in the city is communications,” said OCSO Cpt. Jason Fulgham.
“There are places in the city where my deputies are unable to reach our dispatch and you can imagine what an issue that causes when we have a citizen that is having a heart attack that we’ve come upon and we can’t hit our repeating tower in order to get fire and EMS to come help us save that person,” said Cpt. Fulgham. “Or, we have a situation where we are in danger or someone is trying to cause harm to one of my deputies and they can’t reach out to their fellow deputies to come assist them.”
The sheriff’s office would not go into detail on where the dead zones were located. At the City of Destin strategic planning meeting on Feb. 16, OCSO Captain Jason Fulgham spoke about an incoming communications tower that will improve public and law enforcement safety.
“There are numerous places in the city where we have had this problem and we’ve had that problem for several years,” said Cpt. Fulgham. “Fortunately we have a solution now and that’s the radio tower.”
The 200-foot tower with a 24-foot antenna will be placed at the Destin Water Users location off Main St.
“Behind Destin Water Users’ main office, we do house the beach trash collection from the County and we also have leased them some property to build the new communications tower that will be going in for better safety across the entire county,” said Monica Wallis, Operations Manager at Destin Water Users.
Okaloosa County government staff submitted a building permit which is under review with the city for construction.
The tower is part of a $23 million project to add 200 new radios and 12 new towers across Okaloosa County for the sheriff’s office.
The project will help connect OCSO deputies to nine partnering agencies in the area.
“In the event of a mass shooting or even a school shooting or mall shooting, we have multiple agencies that will respond, and we couldn’t talk to each other, we had to fix that problem,” Sheriff Eric Aden said.
The towers are said to be up and running in 2024.
“That should solve that issue and my guys are very much looking forward to that being put in place,” said Cpt. Fulgham.
To review the discussion at the Feb. 16 meeting, watch here.