As a way to support first responders’ efforts, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced a plan to fund and improve local police departments’ emergency communication systems.
The plan, announced on March 29, calls for awarding $45 million to counties statewide to upgrade critical technology and police emergency communication systems to help better streamline information for emergency situations.
“In an emergency, every second counts,” said Cuomo, a Democrat. “This critical funding will improve the quality and efficiency of emergency response capabilities across New York, while supporting the brave first responders who put their lives on the line every day to protect their neighbors and their community.”
The funding, known as the State Interoperable Communications Grant, which is administered by the state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, DHSES, will be awarded to all 57 counties in New York state.
According to state Assemblyman David Buchwald, a White Plains Democrat and member of the Committee on Consumer Affairs and Protection that oversees DHSES, Westchester County will receive $677,239 of the $45 million in funding to make improvements to the emergency communications system in its police department.
“I absolutely believe having a fully functional 911 system that accommodates multiple technologies is essential for New Yorkers’ safety and that’s what this funding accomplishes,” Buchwald said, explaining that the money will help fund an Internet Protocol-based system, NG911, which allows individuals to communicate by sending photos, videos and text messages. “When society made the transition from landlines to cellphones and other forms of communication that weren’t necessarily tied to a specific location, the need to be able to properly route calls and identify callers’ locations became all the more important.”
According to Kieran O’Leary, the public information officer for the Westchester County police, the grant will help the county extend its interoperability—telecommunication frequency—to neighboring jurisdictions, such as Putnam and Rockland counties, as well as the state of Connecticut.
“Agencies that aren’t necessarily on the same radio system will be able to talk to each other during large-scale emergencies, and that can make a difference,” he said.
O’Leary added that the money will be useful to county police’s marine unit, which is stationed along the Hudson River. He further explained that the unit often needs to communicate with neighboring counties’ marine units that occupy the river, which stretches for 315 miles.
The river stretches throughout three main regions—the Lower Hudson, the Mid-Hudson and the Upper Hudson—and runs through 11 counties within those regions.