The Southold Police Department’s dispatch room could soon be getting an upgrade to replace out-of-date technology using money from a state tax to fund emergency services.
Chief Martin Flatley told the Town Board Tuesday that most of the radio equipment used to dispatch officers to emergency calls is about 15 years old — even though most departments tend to update their rooms every five or six years, he said — and that the equipment is no longer supported by its manufacturer.
“It really needs to be done,” Chief Flatley said. “We were told a couple of years ago, and we’ve been trying to come up with different funding rather than going to taxpayers for it.”
The chief has begun taking steps to upgrade the room, and he hopes renovations will take place in the fall. He estimates the project will cost about $200,000, but he said the town likely will not have to pay anything thanks to funding from New York State’s E911 Surcharge.
For that program, each county collects a monthly fee of no more than 35 cents in the form of a surcharge on every person’s phone bill. That money is then distributed down to first responders, including the Southold Police Department, but it can only be used on equipment that is involved in receiving and assisting 911 calls.
Chief Flatley said he earmarked about $70,000 from last year’s E911 surcharge allocation to be used on the dispatch room renovations. That combined with funding from this year (and next year, if needed) should address most of the costs, he said.
“The console is all push-button [currently] — when you want to activate a fire department, you push a button and it sends a tone,” Chief Flatley said. “That technology has been done for probably five or six years. Now, everything is done on desktop computers.”
Caption: The Southold Town Police Department dispatch room. (Credit: Chris Lisinski)