After the city council wavered on borrowing $1,333,000 to upgrade the city’s public safety communications system, mayor Jose “Joey” Torres revealed details and benefits of the overhaul to council members in an emergency meeting on Monday afternoon.
Torres said the upgrades to the public safety communications system will improve response time for residents. Without mentioning specifics, Torres said there have been “failures” and “deficiencies” with the current communications system.
The last time the system was overhauled was 15 years ago, said Torres. The upgrades will allow police officers to look up vehicle and individual information in their squad cars, said police director Jerry Speziale.
Speziale said through the new Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system calls can be routed to the closest unit to an incident. Officers will be able to write incident reports while in their vehicle using a mounted computer.
Police officers will have e-ticket printers in their vehicle, said the director. The ticket can be populated automatically through the license plate scanner, he said. This system will also allow fire and police personnel to see police call history for a specific location.
“This will really bring us into 21st century policing,” said Speziale. The upgrades will promote better information sharing between police and fire, said officials.
Fire chief Michael Postorino said all fire trucks will be equipped with iPads. He said at present the city is using much more pricey Panasonic Toughbook computers. The latter costs $9,000 per unit while the former can be acquired for $400, said the chief.
Postorino said the mobile devices will allow for “real time” in-service inspections. He said fire will also benefit from faster deployment speed through the new CAD system. Fire units will also be able to share information real time allowing them to avoid drafting separate reports of the same incident, said the chief.
Council members asked questions about the upgrades.
Andre Sayegh, 6th Ward councilman, asked whether the employees will be trained to utilize the new software and hardware. Employees will be trained to use the new system in the six-month implementation period, said Postorino.
Alex Mendez, councilman at-large, who requested the presentation from the administration, asked whether the GPS inside the vehicles will allow police to keep track of units.
“This will put us on the map. We will know where every one of our assets are that will give us post integrity,” said Speziale. He said every unit will be able to see where the other units are located.
Mendez also asked whether the city will receive technical support from the vendors after the six months. Deputy fire chief Brian McDermott said vendors will provide support through support tickets, video calls, and phone calls for the life of the contracts estimated to be five years.
Luis Velez, 5th Ward councilman, asked whether the new system will integrate the city’s camera system. Speziale said units will see a camera icon on their screen which will allow them to view cameras connected to the “Eyes on Paterson” video surveillance system.
Velez also spotted a difference in the number in the administration’s presentation and the amount being borrowed. The presentation listed $1.4 million as the cost for the upgrades while the bonding resolution is for $1.33 million.
Torres said the city is being “conservative” by estimating the numbers on the “high side.”
Ruby Cotton, 4th Ward councilwoman, wondered whether the GPS system, which will show the address of the caller, will negatively impact anonymous callers.
“I don’t need for that officer to say the call came from 448 while at 450,” said Cotton. Speziale said law requires officers to respond to 911 hang ups.
911 system upgrade is a big part of the communications system upgrade. The city will spend $319,623 on the 911 system. This upgrade will improve 911 capability allowing for text messages and better geo-location.
McDermott said the new system will be able to locate callers using GPS and cell tower triangulation automatically.
The other big items are CAD and Records Management Systems (RMS) combined $416,910. Fire hardware $91,000 and police hardware $254,430. And $131,665 for CAD servers.
After the presentation council members approved a resolution allowing the administration to seek approval for the $1.33 million bond from the Local Finance Board. The city will pay $228,523 in interest over a 10-year period, according to municipal records, bringing the total cost for the upgrades to $1.56 million.