Lack of VIPER radios does not slow NHC Sheriff's Office - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Lack of VIPER radios does not slow NHC Sheriff's Office

Sec. Shanahan speaks at a sheriffs' conference in Wrightsville Beach. Sec. Shanahan speaks at a sheriffs' conference in Wrightsville Beach.

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) – The recent drowning death of a man in the Northeast Cape Fear River has one state leader pushing for more law enforcement agencies to join a statewide radio channel.

Department of Public Safety Secretary Kieran Shanahan said the VIPER system could have helped an emergency that included first responders from New Hanover and Pender counties.

New Hanover uses its own communication system, while Pender relies on VIPER. Sergeant Jerry Brewer with New Hanover County said the two agencies communicate through mutual aid channels in a situation like that, so VIPER would not have changed the fatal ending.

"As far as response time, ourselves as well as Pender County were there in seconds," said Brewer. "We actually showed up about the same time."

Any benefit of a shared, statewide system would come after the initial response, according to Brewer.

"Being able to talk to each other quickly will absolutely help with the investigation," he said.

New Hanover County Sheriff's Office does have a radios with VIPER connection, but Brewer said it's limited to a handful of officers.

Wait on the state

Agencies in New Hanover County are on a waiting list, along with many others across the state. Already having a radio system, put New Hanover lower on the state's priority list, according to Brewer.

Now it's a waiting game.

There is no open space, nor open channels for law enforcement agencies to use, according to Brewer. He said the state has to create new IDs and issue them first.

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