Chief Mark Krynicki says their radios work only about 70% to 80% of the time in certain parts of the town. There are what he calls “Dead Zones” all around the 31 square mile community. The transmission system is about 40 years old.
Krynicki says he’s been trying to upgrade the system for the last 7 years. It will cost the town about $300,000.
“If you can’t communicate with anybody you are not getting any information, you have no idea what you are going into,” said Krynicki.
The chief explains when responding to a call a dispatcher relays information like whether there is a gun in the home, if a person has a contagious disease or a history of domestic disturbances.
“Probably one of the most dangerous calls an officer can go on and if you don’t have communication you can’t call for help you can’t call for assistance that officers life is in jeopardy,” said Krynicki.
The new system will improve the radio signal to about 99.9%, according to the chief. It will also benefit the Fire Department and DPW and allow all three to communicate.
Some residents support the project, but have concerns about the $300,000 price tag.
“I am a firm believer that the Police Department needs the tools in order to protect the citizens of the community,” said Jeanne Nilsson, Southwick.
“I would think there is gonna be concern especially as the population grows in the town,” said Beth Libby, Southwick.
The project will be a part of the Police Department’s budget and will be heard before Town Meeting in the spring.