Norwich, Conn., Greenlights Public Safety Radio Partnership with State

Bonds in the amount of $2.7 million, if approved by voters, would pay for a needed upgrade of the police communications system.

by Kevin Aherne, Norwich Bulletin / August 9, 2018
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(TNS) — NORWICH — An antiquated police radio system is putting officers and the public at risk, according to Norwich Police Chief Patrick Daley.

"Norwich Police's low-band radio system is no longer suitable for mission-critical public communications," Daley said. "This endangers both citizens and officers."

Norwich's Public Safety sub-committee held a special meeting on Wednesday night which featured a presentation by Daley on the details of the proposal to upgrade the city's public safety communications system.

An ordinance was introduced at Monday's meeting of the Norwich City Council that, if passed, would ask voters to approve $2.7 million for upgrades, paid through bonds, to the radio system used by Norwich police. The ordinance will be presented at a public hearing on Aug. 20.

Daley explained the proposed cost of $2.7 million would have been between $5.2 million and $8.7 million if the city built its own system.

During the presentation, Daley said the department has prepared a plan that would upgrade the Norwich Police communications system, allowing it to be integrated with the state of Connecticut's Trunked Radio System being used by state police.

As part of the upgrade, communications towers and their associated infrastructure will be placed on Orchard Street in Norwich and on the existing tower at Wheelabrator waste management site in Lisbon.

Daley said integration with the state system would come at a fraction of the cost of building its own upgraded system.

Daley said the current system was first installed in the 1940s and plans to upgrade the system in 1991 were scrapped. He added that Norwich's topography along with increased noise from modern technologies have led to significant black-out areas for officers.

To evidence this point, Daley asked the approximately 20 officers in attendance to raise their hand if they had never experienced a significant radio problem. No hands were raised.

Alderman Stacy Gould was in attendance at the meeting and she asked Daley, as well as Motorola system engineer Rob Cady, to explain what recourse the city would have if the promised coverage levels were not met.

"Motorola would be contractually obligated to provide coverage as expressed," Cady said. "If the coverage was not met, it is on Motorola to address it."

Gould also asked Daley to explain what costs would be associated with maintenance and upgrades once the system was live.

Daley explained the city presently pays approximately $30,000 annually to maintain its current system. He added that in the first five years of use, the new system would be between $80,000 and $85,000 per year.

Following the presentation, the public safety subcommittee unanimously voted to support the ordinance.

©2018 Norwich Bulletin, Conn. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.