The Pennsylvania State Police's Lancaster barracks started a new pilot program today that will test the new Statewide Public Safety Radio System and give troopers, first responders and local officials the ability to coordinate their safety and response efforts more effectively and improve public safety.

State Police Deputy Commissioner Lt. Col. Coleman J. McDonough and Office of Administration Secretary Joe Martz announced the kickoff of the pilot program at Troop J.

"This is an exciting first step in implementing a system that will better serve the citizens of the commonwealth while helping to keep our troopers safe," Miller said. "The ability to coordinate an emergency situation response within minutes is crucial to protecting the public. With this new system, talk groups or channels can be created within minutes, allowing first responders and officials at the state and local levels to react quickly."

He said that when fully implemented, the new 800 MHz radio system will allow troopers for the first time to communicate directly via radio with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, Department of Health and other state agencies. Troopers also will be able to bridge to other first responder radio systems for municipal police, county dispatch centers and other agencies.

The system gives troopers radio priority when they are in an emergency situation, a feature that Miller said will enhance officer safety.

Troopers will also be able to communicate with each other across the commonwealth.

The Governor's Office of Administration, Office of Public Radio Systems, administered the build out and deployment of the system, working in conjunction with M/A-COM, the system's vendor.

The Statewide Public Safety Radio System is replacing multiple incompatible, mobile radio systems across commonwealth agencies with a single system that provides for wireless data and voice communications.