By Susan Gonsalves, Contributing Writer
SOUTHBOROUGH – The Southborough Police Department will soon replace two Motorola portable radios thanks to a state grant, according to Police Chief Kenneth Paulhus.
The town received $7,516, one of 40 awards granted to police and fire departments across the state. Financed by the Commonwealth Security Trust Fund (CSTF), a total of $345,337.95 was distributed for equipment, technology, training and planning for first responders.
The order for the radios was set to go out last week.
Paulhus explained that the department lost four older portable radios and two mobile, cruiser radios when the department switched to a digital output a few months ago to improve reception for both police and fire communications.
“We applied to replace all of those units, but are happy to receive the award… at a cost savings to the town,” the chief said in an email, adding that it was a “very competitive” grant process.
He noted that the radios are used for communication with out-of-town officers working details. They’re also used as spares available for special events such as elections, Heritage Day and parades.
In addition, the radios are used for emergency operations, or when other radios are out for repair, Paulhus said.
In a press release, Gov. Charlie Baker said his administration is committed to supporting first responders.
“By meeting critical needs for rescue equipment, protective gear, and other lifesaving tools, the Commonwealth Security Trust Fund grants will help keep them safe and support their important work,” he stated.
This year’s grants ranged from $1,320 to $20,000 and will allow for the purchase of lifesaving equipment like water rescue craft and firefighting foam; communications devices, including radios and laptops and protective materials like ballistic vests and turnout gear.
The CSTF grants are funded by revenue received from the sale of “United We Stand” license plates and interest earnings. The recipients and award amounts are determined by a Board of Trustees comprised of state government officials, law enforcement, the fire service and relatives of Massachusetts victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks.
In addition to funding equipment to enhance emergency response capabilities, the CSTF grants also pay for year-round upkeep and maintenance for the Massachusetts Law Enforcement Memorial and Massachusetts Fallen Firefighters Memorial, honoring first responders who lost their lives in the line of duty.
Nearby, the Worcester Fire Department was awarded a grant totaling $19,808.65, also for portable radios.
Outside of this grant program, first responder communications infrastructure has been a topic of discussion in nearby Shrewsbury.
In May, Shrewsbury’s Board of Selectmen approved its half of an intermunicipal agreement with Worcester to share the 12 radio frequencies licensed to Worcester by the Federal Communications Commission. Shrewsbury officials proposed building two new radio sites in town to expand and strengthen radio coverage for first responders both in Shrewsbury and in Worcester.