Cantu was happy to find a pile of boxes on a table outside of Willow’s office on the second floor of the Bee County Justice Center.
“When I took over in February, Robert Bridge asked me to try to get a grant for the City of Beeville,” Willow said.
Bridge, who left the position to run for the justice of the peace job in north Bee County, directed Willow to the Coastal Bend Council of Governments, and Willow started doing the groundwork.
Willow said the U.S. Department of Homeland Security was offering grants to help emergency responders communicate with other agencies outside their immediate areas using special radios.
Willow filled out the paperwork and sent it to the COG headquarters in Corpus Christi, and a few days later Cantu drove down to Corpus Christi to make a pitch for the grant.
“We tried for 30,” Willow said. “We got 12.”
The federal agency’s money is handed down through the State Homeland Security Program, and then councils of government across the state apply for the state funds.
Willow said the good news is that once the COG officials approved the $15,000 for the purchase of 12 radios, he was told to apply later for the other 18.
The Motorola XTS 15 radios are not like most other radios carried by police officers. Their normal radios allow them to communicate with dispatchers at the Beeville Police Department.
The new radios offer 96 channels to the officer on the street. That allows them to communicate with every other emergency responder department in the Coastal Bend and even with state emergency departments.
The radios also can be used to communicate with other emergency response agencies throughout the state.
“We’ll put them to work for everyday usage,” Cantu said. “What it does is increase the safety of the officers.”
Gary Kent is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 120, or at reporter@mySouTex.com.