Emergency Radio System Part of Bloomingdale Preparedness Plan
Local police, fire officials hoping to team up with school district to purchase new communication system connecting borough entities.
The tragic events of the Newtown school massacre have sparked national dialogue on gun laws and school safety, some of which inspired immediate action on part of school administrators and police officers.
Such is the case in Bloomingdale, where police officers were present at district schools in the days following the Newtown attack and began to meet with district officials to discuss ways to keep the borough's kids safe. Those conversations have continued since December and Bloomingdale Police Chief Joe Borell presented one action item to the Bloomingdale Board of Education Monday that he thinks could help in an emergency situation.
The police department, in conjunction with the Bloomingdale Office of Emergency Management, Bloomingdale Volunteer Fire Department, the Department of Public Works and other local emergency organizations, is looking to purchase a portable radio system from Royal Communications for $33,400, which would include outfitting each of the district schools with one portable radio.
The borough would receive licensing for its own radio channel and on that channel, communication lines would be open and direct from each portable radio to the Bloomingdale police station. Additional portable radios could be purchased at a later date for about $1,000.
Borell said the police department already applied last month for the separate radio channel and was hoping to have the full initiative in place by June.
Board members seemed to be in favor of the overall concept of using an emergency radio system to communicate with police, as became an issue even during Superstorm Sandy. Board Member Sheldon Bross said that naturally, officials hope to never need to use such a system but that they should be prepared.
"In light of what's happened in Newtown, we don't know what to do," he said.
But Borell said the emergency radio initiative cannot be brought to fruition without enough funding made available, despite budgetary constraints of all parties involved.
"The only way we're going to get this going is to come up with the funding for it," Borell said.
In approaching the board, Borell said he was not prepared with a specific dollar amount the police department was asking of the district, but that he envisions the initiative as a partnership. Mayor Jonathan Dunleavy, who was in attendance at the meeting, called the initiative a "four-way partnership" between the entities involved.
Dunleavy said the borough has already committed to moving ahead with the initiative and requested funding of between $10,000 and $11,000 from the school district. Earlier in the meeting, it was noted that all participating entities will be dipping into their own budgets to come up with funding to assist. Board President Lauren Grecco said the board would further discuss the initiative and funding at future committee meetings.
Dunleavy also said that the communications initiative could serve as an important resource in a wide range of emergency situations.
"This is not just about hurricanes," he said. "This is about a direct connect from our PD to our schools."