Boardman considers GPS in township radios

By Ashley Luthern

The township’s administrator is recommending to trustees the installation of a global-positioning system in township vehicles and radios.

Administrator Jason Loree said the timing is right as Boardman and Austintown install a joint $1.5 million Motorola radio-dispatch system.

The new system will be capable of including GPS in vehicle and handheld radios at an extra cost, he said.

“It’s for officer, firefighter and road employees’ safety,” Loree said.

Loree oversaw a three-month pilot program that installed traditional GPS units on fire, police and road department vehicles. The pilot program cost $1,500 and ended in the fall. No problems with the system or employees were reported.

“There is nothing in the [union] contracts to prohibit this, and the union was aware of it,” he said.

The cost to expand the pilot program throughout the township is estimated at $60,000, Loree said.

However, if the township chooses to use the new radio-dispatch system, the cost would be on a per- radio basis.

“We need to get an exact count of all handheld and car radios,” said Loree, who expects the total cost to be the same or less than $60,000.

The cost would be spread over the three departments’ budgets, he said.

Police Chief Jack Nichols said he supports certain forms of GPS monitoring for officers.

“The primary use for us is being able to have a screen that the dispatcher can look at in real time and see where the cars are,” he said.

“Then dispatchers don’t have to poll all the cars verbally and everyone tries to answer at the same time. It allows them to choose the closest car and allows for a quicker response,” Nichols continued.

Loree sees it as a way for the public to have more information, too. For example, he said he would like to show residents where snowplows are in real time either online or on the community television station.

He acknowledged the project will take time. The new radio-dispatch system isn’t fully operational yet, and installations will happen on a rotating basis so vehicles are not out of service at the same time.

“I think it’s worth it,” Loree said. “I’m excited to get it up and running this year.”

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