Austintown, Boardman officials OK funding for radio project
By Elise Franco
and Ashley Luthern
Both Austintown and Boardman trustees approved funding for their joint radio-dispatching project Monday.
The cost of the $1.5 million Motorola radio system will be shared between the two townships.
Austintown is respons- ible for no more than $830,000 of the project’s cost, which will be paid out over a maximum of 15 years, said Police Chief Robert Gavalier.
The $1.5 million Motorola radio system will bring the systems for both Austintown and Boardman up to federal mandated standards and will allow each township to have three radio-dispatch consoles and one backup, instead of the two consoles and one backup that they have now.
The radio system allows emergency dispatchers to communicate with police officers on patrol. The federal government has mandated all public-safety land-mobile-radio systems go to narrowband — switching from analog systems to digital — by 2013.
Boardman trustees already have approved funding Boardman’s $750,000 share of the dispatch project using federal grants and the Law Enforcement Trust Fund, which includes seized funds from drug raids.
Gavalier said instead of using telephone, or T1, lines to connect the dispatch consoles, they’ll use microwave frequencies.
“This will save us the cost per month we had to pay for the T1 lines,” he said. “The microwaves will send the frequencies through the air.”
On Monday, Boardman trustees approved paying $65,235.75, one half of the total cost, for a microwave link system, which is needed for the joint radio project.
Police Chief Jack Nichols said fiber-optic cables will be used to get dispatching information to Boardman’s radio tower, which then will use the microwave frequencies to connect to the tower in Austintown.
The funds for the microwave-frequency system are coming primarily from a police auction of seized items from criminals such as cars and televisions, which brought in about $40,000, said Nichols.
Nichols said he expects to make up the difference at an upcoming police auction in April. Like Austintown, Boardman had T1 lines, and by replacing those lines, Nichols said the township will save about $600 per month.
Gavalier said the Austintown Police Department secured a $40,000 grant for 2012 through the Office of Criminal Justice to help offset some of the cost and will begin paying on the radio system within the next month.
“We’ll continue to apply for more grants each year,” he said.
Gavalier said the system is designed so that other departments can tie in. The Mill Creek MetroParks Police Department is paying about $200,000 to use the system, and Gavalier said one or two other departments also expressed interest.