Kyle Bathke in police car

Kyle Bathke, a Payson officer, works on his vehicle’s on-board computer. He and other officers will now have new handheld radios thanks to a grant from the Arizona Attorney General’s Office.

An unexpected grant from the Arizona Attorney General paid for much-needed handheld radios for the Payson Police Department.

“Every day the officers have trouble talking to other officers,” Ron Tischer, Payson’s police chief, told the council in August.

Of particular concern, the ability to communicate with the Gila County Sheriff’s Office.

“It is difficult at times,” said Tischer and was set to become impossible after the GCSO got a new radio system.

Tischer has also heard the Department of Public Safety was looking to upgrade its radios, which would leave Payson in the cold.

“The current radios in use are outdated and provide very poor radio coverage throughout town,” said Tischer.

Communications between dispatchers often broke down because of static and poor connections. Officers use radios in their squad cars when they need 100% reliability, said Tischer.

Tischer knew, however, that until he could find funding, the department could not buy new radios.

All looked bleak until the Arizona Attorney General stepped in to help.

“The Attorney General’s office hit up several of us chiefs and said, ‘We have (grant) money. Give us what you need as far as officer safety-wise.’” said Tischer.

So he pitched funding 25 portable radios for around $25,000.

The AG bit. How quickly surprised Tischer.

“Like most grant processes you put in your application and say, well, maybe we’ll get something — and that usually comes three, four, five, six months later,” he said. “Within an hour, I got an email back, you’re approved. Your check is in the mail.”

The council voted unanimously to accept the grant.

“It’s great news for the town of Payson and public safety,” said Tischer.

Contact the reporter at mnelson@payson.com

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