Since the department’s inception in 1852, few deputies with the Doña Ana County Sheriff’s Department have been able to establish reliable radio communication in the southernmost parts of the county near the U.S./Mexico border, something that Doña Ana County is moving quickly to resolve.
“From the Texas state line to the Luna County line, there are virtually no radio communication towers in southern Doña Ana County to accommodate radio transmissions or cell phone communication,” said Larry Bleimeyer, a county radio communications supervisor, who led the charge to build a tower site on a narrow, 200-foot section of property owned by the Bureau of Land Management. The exact location of the site is just north of the U.S. Mexico border off Highway 9.
The gap in radio transmissions came after an FCC-mandated switch from high-frequency (HF) to very-high-frequency (VHF) radio transmissions more than 10 years ago, Bleimeyer said, leaving deputies who patrol Highway 9 between El Paso and Columbus with unreliable communications.
“And that’s a dangerous situation to be in,” said Bleimeyer, who surveyed the area as a Captain with the New Mexico Mounted Patrol.
Since 2007, Bleimeyer has been leading the charge to change that, and watched earlier this year as construction crews broke ground on a new radio tower communications site, named Bleimeyer Communications Tower by the BLM in honor of the person who made sure the project didn’t fall out of focus.
“We worked closely with Sen. Jeff Bingaman’s office to have the land cleared for use as a tower site,” said Bleimeyer, who also oversaw several other milestones for the project: he helped get the land cleared through environmental and archaeological impact studies to allow for bird migrations and other wildlife concerns; he kept inventory of donated radio equipment to be used on the site that was given to the department by the Department of Homeland Security; he worked to have a right-of-way established for an access road to the tower site; and just last month, Bleimeyer established an agreement with U.S. Border Patrol to allow them access to the site in exchange for upgrades to the Magdalena Peak building and tower.
The Bleimeyer Communication Tower is expected to be operational by late August 2012.