MARLBOROUGH – The city’s police and fire departments will soon begin to upgrade their equipment, thanks to a bond approved by the City Council.
On Sept. 29, in a rare morning meeting, council members authorized a $4.95 million bond. With the approval, the city will receive a discount of almost $179,000 from Motorola.
During the preliminary mayoral debate on Sept. 20, candidate Patrick Hogan, a detective with the Police Department, chided the City Council for not voting on the bond sooner and risk losing the credit.
“I applaud them for finally taking some action although, due to their past inaction, we are still months away from any improvements to the current communications system,” said Hogan on Sept. 29. “The request has been in committee since July. Apparently, the well-being of the city’s police and fire personnel only become a concern when an election cycle is upon us.”
About the project
The bond will cover expenses for an 18-month, multifaceted project that will include a software upgrade for computer-aided dispatch/records management, as well as data cabling to support the installation of the new digital system for all fire stations.
Assistant Chief Jeff Emanuelson and Chief Kevin Breen have been working with the city’s information technology and police departments to upgrade transmission lines with fiber where accessible and a microwave upgrade that includes Federal Communications Commission licensing.
Emanuelson and Breen, along with Police Chief David Giorgi, appeared before the council’s Finance Committee meeting on Sept. 14 to discuss the upgrades.
“We want to modernize the equipment,” said Emanuelson.
Giorgi said there were challenges in maintaining communications over Labor Day weekend, especially during the parade. He said one channel had “a lot of static,” so personnel had to use the second channel – until that stopped working.
“We are all on one channel,” he said. “We tried not to talk over one another.”
Emanuelson said the new radios will come with IDs for each member of the police and fire departments.
As part of the project, an old wooden telephone pole at the police station will be taken down. A tower pole from Hudson will be installed in its place.
The new communications system will give first responders the ability to contact agencies across the region. Also, with modifications, it could be expanded in case the city opens a west fire station.
“These vital upgrades will improve weak signals in historic spots around the city that is vital to the city’s public safety and supporting mutual aid calls,” said Mayor Arthur Vigeant in a letter to the City Council dated July 20.