The good news out of Tuesday’s Rochester Select Board meeting is that the Police Department has received a $49,700 grant that will be put toward digital radios.
“It put us in a really good shape,” said Police Chief Robert Small, who reports that the new equipment will give the department “everything we need.”
As has been the case in so many postpandemic purchase agreements, there is a delay on the arrival of the merchandise.
“They have radios, they don’t have batteries,” said Rick Salvucci, the public safety systems manager for Mansfield-based Industrial Communications.
Salvucci told the board and the department chiefs that he had a difficult time getting a straight answer about the delay. First he was told the radios would arrive within eight weeks, he said, then four weeks, then another four another weeks. Finally, Salvucci requested a realistic timeline.
“They’re telling me 26 weeks is a good number,” he said, guessing that 22 weeks is probably more like it. “The cruiser radios don’t need batteries so they should ship sooner.”
Fire Chief Scott Weigel said his department has put its two mobile communications units in the ambulances and estimates 70 “portables” overall. He is working with the Acushnet Fire Department on a joint venture as suggested by a grant writer. He ordered 20 radios and is being told to expect their arrival in 22 weeks.
The story gets complicated where it concerns the Fire Department because, while the Fire Department will eventually upgrade to a digital system, it remains on the analog setting, and that has caused uncertainty regarding interdepartmental communications.
Select Board member Adam Murphy asked why go digital now when the departments are not entirely set up for it.
Salvucci said that there has been a lot of urgency for other deps within the regional dispatch system based in Duxbury to go for it. He said the problem with converting one department to digital incurs redundant effort and costs. According to Salvucci, several municipalities in the region have gone digital over the past several months, including Mattapoisett, Fairhaven and Plymouth.
“If we’re going to have to go to every single radio, we want to do it once,” said Salvucci. “My understanding was the town was on board with it.”
Salvucci deals in Motorola products, which Small said are prevalent among police departments across the region. Meantime, Salvucci maintains an association with another industry representative who sells Kenwood products, which have been the in-house equipment performing well despite age and mileage, according to both Rochester chiefs.
Hanson and Kingston fire departments are digital, and the entire Cape Cod is going digital, according to Salvucci. Ironically, Duxbury, the host town of the regional dispatch never will, as Chief Reardon doesn’t like the sound.
The discussion turned to towers in surrounding towns.
“We need to figure out how to get backup. That’s my biggest issue with this whole thing,” said Rochester Deputy Fire Chief and Highway Supervisor Jeff Eldridge.
The board and the departments thanked Salvucci for visiting the Select Board for discussion and brainstorming.
The next meeting of the Rochester Select Board is scheduled for Monday, December 11, at 6:00 pm at the Senior Center, Dexter Lane.
Rochester Select Board
By Mick Colageo