$32 million emergency radio system on horizon
Friday, July 19, 2002
Contract is signed on plan to link fire, police countywide
By Mike Martindale / The Detroit News
PONTIAC, Mich. — A $32 million radio system that will enable police and fire departments across the county to talk with one another is a step closer to reality.
Officials from the Oakland County Law Enforcement Consortium announced Thursday a contract has been signed with M/A-Com wireless systems of Massachusetts, a subsidiary of Tyco International. The consortium represents more than 80 law enforcement agencies in Oakland County and southeast Michigan.
“Today marks a very important occasion in the public safety of Oakland County, not only for the law enforcement, fire and EMS responders, but also for the citizens that we serve,” said Farmington Hills Police Chief William Dwyer, chairman of the consortium. “Nothing is more important in effective and efficient public safety emergency response than the radio communications system that links the responders to each other.”
The signing follows a six-year effort to modernize emergency radio traffic.
Poor radio communication has been blamed for numerous tragedies and near-tragedies, most notably in connection with the Sept. 11 World Trade Center tragedy in which thousands of victims, including firefighters and emergency workers who responded to the buildings, were killed when the buildings collapsed.
Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said, “It is especially important in the post 9-11 world that public safety works together on these types of projects. The public is looking for us to protect them in an ever-increasingly dangerous world.”
Several state and federal reports have said that countless lives, including those of firefighters, might have been saved had they a better radio communication system.
Local police agencies like the Oakland County Sheriff’s Department can recall tense hours when deputies were unable to communicate with multiple police agencies responding to a shooting at Ford Motor Co.’s Wixom plant in 1996.
“They could see each other across the parking lot but could not directly communicate,” Dwyer said. “Fire agencies assisting a neighboring community cannot give each other information on life-threatening conditions from opposite sides of a building.”
The new radio system will be funded by a 57 cent surcharge placed on all telephone bills in Oakland County in 2000. The surcharge, to expire in 2006, will generate $36 million.
Dwyer said the true winners are the citizens who within the 27 months required to complete the project will see improved public safety response to emergencies.
You can reach Mike Martindale at (248) 647-7226 or [email protected]
(Copyright 2002, The Detroit News. Republished with permission.)