Shelton Radio Problems to be fixed. hmmmm......
Shelton officials working on radio woes
By Michelle Tuccitto Sullo, Naugatuck Valley Bureau Chief
SHELTON — The police administration says it is working to repair the department’s problem-ridden radio system, which officers have called a safety hazard.
The Board of Aldermen’s Public Health and Safety Committee is expected to discuss the issue at 7 tonight at City Hall, 54 Hill St.
Because of the radio problems, police officers out on calls have had trouble communicating with dispatchers at police headquarters. There has been static, and in some cases, officers have had to resort to using personal cell phones because of the problems with the radio system, according to one department memo. A February police incident report calls it a “serious officer and public safety issue.”
“We have been making some repairs to the radio system, and more repairs are scheduled,” said Police Chief Joel Hurliman. “Over the years, a number of things have changed, including the addition of fairly large buildings, interference issues with other radios, and the age of the system. The radio system is not where it is supposed to be, and the city is doing everything it can to fix it. It is a huge concern of mine.”
AdvertisementThe department’s radio frequency’s proximity to others has caused an interference problem. The department sought approval to change from its frequency from the 800 range to one in the 400 range, Hurliman said, though it has been notified that none are available. The city will be submitting a waiver application, according to Hurliman.
The city has received a $600,000 federal grant, which Hurliman said “is not enough to fix our coverage issues with our current frequency.”
Hurliman said there also is an effort underway to have a citywide frequency, with city emergency services in the same range.
Alderman John Papa, who is on the Public Health and Safety Committee, said he expects the communications problem will be discussed tonight.
The full Board of Aldermen in February voted to waive the bid process and enter into a contract with Oliver Associates “to prepare, administer and manage the radio frequency changes for the local police and fire departments,” meeting minutes show.
“It would be used by everyone, and would mean better reception,” Papa said. “That is already in the works.”
Adding to the communications situation, according to Hurliman, is a problem with one of the antennas, now located on a hilltop in Derby. While Hurliman said the communication issues have been a problem “for awhile,” he said the situation became worse in October 2007, when the old, custom-built antenna in Derby was replaced with another one. “There is an antenna that needs to be replaced,” Hurliman said. “It doesn’t have the same ability to transmit as the one we used to have before October of 2007.”
Hurliman said there are some areas of the city, particularly at lower elevations, where coverage has “decreased significantly” with the antenna in question. Getting a new custom-built antenna could take several weeks, according to Hurliman.
Alderman Jason Perillo, who is on the Public Health and Safety Committee and is also the chief of Echo Hose Ambulance, said the ambulance service had similar problems about five years ago.
“We solved many of the problems we had, but it takes time,” Perillo said. “It is important to have quality communication, and I know Chief Hurliman is working toward that, and that it is a high priority.”
Michelle Tuccitto Sullo can be reached at email@example.com