POTTAWATOMIE COUNTY, Oklahoma - Pottawatomie County emergency responders are having problems with communications. Broken radios and dead spots in service are putting lives at risk. But a solution is on the way.  

“We shouldn’t be having these problems. Never had these kinds of issues in the past.” Pottawatomie County Sheriff Mike Booth is frustrated. Some radios are turning on and off by themselves. Others can’t properly connect to dispatch. And fixing them is costly.

“It’s 500 bucks a pop. 750 bucks a pop. My goodness, we can’t afford that,” said Booth. “We’re a small agency.”

That’s one problem. The other problem is dead spots in the county’s more rural areas. Both problems should be reduced with a couple of new radio towers being erected by the Citizen Potawatomi Nation.

“The Potawatomi Nation has stepped up by building, paying for, completely paying for two towers that will address the majority of the issues we have been talking about,” said Citizen Potawatomi Nation Police Chief Jim Collard.

One tower, just finished in McLoud, stands almost 400-feet high and should be on line in September.

“To eliminate those dead spots and get over the issues of terrain. With the system that we’re putting in there will be roughly 99% coverage of the county of Pottawatomie County and much into the surrounding counties,” said Citizen Potawatomi Nation Emergency Manager Tim Zientek.

Another tower on the southern part of the county should be on line in December.

“By Christmas, we should be up and operational and have total coverage of the entire county of Pottawatomie County,” said Zientek.

Back in 2015, the tribe took over dispatching for all of Pottawatomie County except Shawnee. Shawnee has its own system. But the two systems can work in cooperation if one fails.

Sheriff Booth said he appreciates the tribe’s efforts, and realizes these things take time.

“Everybody involved in this has to understand, and it’s been frustrating for everybody, sometimes you gotta take baby steps,” said Booth.