For years, state police assigned to Troop B here in Russell have covered Western Mass, but their personal radios have not. Coverage out in the field has been spotty at best.
“Out here in the hills for years we’d go into a house for a domestic, an incident at the regional high school, a building search or active alarm and we had no contact with the barracks,” explained Trooper George Beaupre. “None whatsoever.”
But now, thanks to a $42 million upgrade, 28 new radio towers will provide complete digital coverage from the Pioneer Valley up to the very remotest parts of the hill towns.
“You get to a scene, a motor vehicle crash – you leave the cruiser to find out what’s going on in the crashed vehicle, now all of a sudden I need an ambulance,” said Beaupre. “I have to hustle back to the cruiser to request and ambulance. Now I can do it right from the scene. I can start administering first aid.”
At $6,000 apiece, the portable radios aren’t cheap. And while the new system provides a dependable means of communications for troopers in the field, it also represents something much more important: Safety.
“Our troopers cover vast amounts of areas,” said Colonel Timothy Alben, Superintendent MA State Police. “They ride alone in rural parts of western mass every single day This will at some point in time mean the difference between life and death.”
Right now, most of Western MA is covered by the digital signal but there are areas still in need of service – fill sights as they’re called. They’ll be filled in with 6 more towers, and not all are rural. State police say one of the areas requiring another tower is actually quite urban – downtown Springfield. But whether in a city or town or middle of the woods, the purpose of the new technology is the same.
“It will absolutely save someone’s life,” assured Alben.
State police in Western Mass are already using the new digital radios, and all the towers should be installed by 2013.