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Posted: 04/17/13

Romeo police begin
training for 911 system

by CHRIS GRAY
Observer Staff Writer
      The Romeo Police Department is expanding its emergency capabilities with the arrival of a 911 system that costs $105,000.
       The department has received its new 911 system and is preparing to train its officers in the coming month to have the system live by mid-May.
       Police Chief Greg Paduch said the new system, a Positron Viper, will carry all the functional needs of the old system, but handle any future additions to 911 software.
       "The fact is, we needed an upgrade because there was no back-up and no more software support," he said. "The old system is obsolete."
       The national initiative to upgrade 911 systems is called Next Generation (NG) 911. According to the National Emergency Number Association, NG911 will allow the public to send in text messages, images and videos in addition to phone calls using Internet Protocol-based networks.
       Paduch estimates these new forms of emergency communications will happen within the next decade.
       "I think it's a good idea," he said. "They'll probably use certain parts of the country as testing and work out the kinks before it goes nationwide."
       Paduch said NG911 will let the department easily transfer calls and data to different dispatch centers, such as to Macomb or Lapeer counties.
       "That will be part of the set-up and training," Paduch said. "Dispatchers will immediately determine what area it is and transfer it to the appropriate entity."
       NG911 systems will also be set up to receive data from devices such as automatic collision notification and medical alert systems.
       Paduch said there will be no loss of 911 services when the switch occurs. During the couple of hours when the system is switching over, all 911 calls will be re-routed to the Macomb County Sheriff's Office (MCSO).
       In fact, this happened when the old 911 system shut down for three weeks due to a power surge in late October. The department had to pay $2,000 in repairs, and was told by technicians the system's software support was extinct.
       "There was nothing that we could do for it," Paduch said. "Another power surge knocked it back online."
       The Village Board of Trustees approved of the purchase in January, deciding it would be more cost-effective to upgrade the system as opposed to contracting with the MCSO for dispatch services.
       The delay of installation stemmed from village trustees discussing a possible re-location of the department. They considered expanding the department into the entire Village Hall or moving it to the vacant fire station on Rawles Street or former WBRW Channel 6 studio on Morton Street.
       However, the board decided last month that the department should remain at its current location due to a lack of adequate funding.
       Should the department move to a new location, Paduch said the cost of moving the 911 system would be up to $10,000.


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