The Southold Town Police Department is now seeing the results of a $340,000 donation to improve police radio systems, allowing the department bring a necessary update to its dispatch room.
Charles Reichert, owner of IGA supermarkets in Greenport and Southold, had learned about the department’s radio issues last summer and reached out to Police Chief Martin Flatley to find out how he could help, ultimately donating the funds through his family foundation.
“It was an extremely, extremely generous donation that enabled us to set the room the way we wanted to,” Chief Flatley said. The funds covered a contract with Motorola for new dispatch equipment and furniture, he said.
The previous radio room was more than 15 years old, with outdated technology, Chief Flatley said. The department was starting to see some radio failures with the old systems and there were no replacement parts available because it had aged out, he said.
Southold’s radio operators can’t have service interruptions, Chief Flatley said. They not only take 911 calls, but dispatch emergency personnel for eight local fire departments, two police departments, all well as all the ambulance services in town.
The project to remove the old radio systems required a strategy to set up a duplicate room with the new equipment in the basement of the police station, moving the 911 lines, radios and dispatchers one by one so that service was not interrupted and calls were not missed, he said.
The revamped dispatch room has new stations for four operators, while the old space had three. Two dispatchers are in the room at all times, he said.
“The fourth station is nice to have because when we get storms, hurricanes, snowfall, you get inundated with 911 calls and other phone calls,” Chief Flatley said. “It’s nice to bring that extra person in and to be able to help out with the caseload.”
Dispatcher Colleen Rice of East Quogue said the radios are much clearer now and that she likes the new stations that can be raised so that she can stand and move around for parts of her eight-hour shift.
“Sometimes it’s nice to stand, like if we have a hot call, it’s just makes me feel like I’m on it a little bit more,” she said, standing before seven glowing monitors that show information including 911 calls, fire radios and locations of sector cars.
She paused to respond to an officer from a new radio at her work station.
“I like it,” she said. “It’s nice and bright and everything is where is should be.”
Photo caption: Dispatcher Colleen Rice at a new radio room station at Southold Town Police headquarters. (Credit: Kelly Zegers)