BOARDMAN, Ohio -- By Wednesday, a new, upgraded joint radio-dispatch system is expected to be up and running in Boardman and Austintown.
Several grants and money Boardman Police Officers seized during crime-fighting efforts are helping fund the major upgrade to radio dispatch systems in Boardman and Austintown.
The project comes at a cost of approximately $1.5-million, but is expected to go a long way towards increasing efficiency and cutting costs for years to come.
Boardman Police Chief Jack Nichols says, "Going down the road all the costs will be split. Their maintenance costs will be half, our maintenance costs will be half, and should somebody else decide to come in -- then of course that savings will be cut down even further."
Equipment that is more than 20 years old, that could not be updated as required by federal standards, will now be replaced with new state of the art equipment.
Both communities dispatch centers will be switched over to a computerized, all digital system. The townships, with the blessings from both Boards of Trustees, began collaborating on upgrading their systems two years ago.
Chief Nichols says, "It's a real benefit for handling emergencies, or God forbid we have some type of tragedy. It will facilitate communication of everybody involved in an emergency. The system, the way it's built right now has the ability to handle about 450 different units, that's hand-held radios or mobile radios installed in the cars. ... And then it's a very simple process to upgrade it to higher capacities than that. It will be a real benefit to both communities."
The abililty to be a good neighbor and allow other communities to join in on the system if needed is something that was extremely important to trustees in both Boardman and Austintown, Chief Nichols says.
Different departments or agencies will now be able to communicate through what's called patching abilities if there's a major emergency or crisis, "For example if the Boardman Fire Department needs to speak directly to the St. Elizabeth Hospital Police Department through the dispatch center, we can make the connection, even though neither of those agencies is on the 800 radio band," Nichols says.
... And Boardman's Police Chief says another benefit is that former dead-zones that made it impossible for officers to communicate under the old system, now have crystal clear reception. Something critical when it comes to safety.
Mill Creek MetroParks Police will also be part of the new system, that promises increased efficiency when it comes to public safety, and a shared cost that will help everybody's bottom line.