North Huntingdon police department gets long-awaited radio upgrade
By Amanda Dolasinski
Published: Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014, 9:01 p.m.
As radios buzz in the background, North Huntingdon police dispatcher Jaclyn Robinson coolly takes information and connects officers on the street to residents in distress.
Controlling three separate, simultaneous conversations can be a juggling act, but Robinson commands the radio with ease and quickly assigns officers to the proper location with vital information before they even step out of the vehicle.
“We handle everything from barking dogs to armed robberies,” she said. “There's no way of knowing what you get next.”
This month, North Huntingdon police dispatchers received a new, computer-based radio system. The modern system costs about $65,000, which was part of the 2013 township budget. It replaces a system so old replacement parts had become obsolete.
“It's an antiquated push-button system,” Robinson said. “Things are starting to break inside, and we can't get the parts.”
Repairs on North Huntingdon's old system became costly. A fan was set up to blow cool air on the console so it didn't overheat.
North Huntingdon officials purchased the system in the 1990s but chose an older model to meet budget constraints. Dispatchers got used to pushing buttons to connect calls and route police.
Now, instead of looking at a board loaded with buttons and knobs, dispatchers focus on one screen to easily receive calls and click over to be patched into police radios.
The transmissions are much clearer, Robinson said. She also said dispatchers have increased their efficiency to work as a backup center for county 911 and have the ability to effortlessly switch between channels.
“I think it's just a peace of mind knowing the equipment is current and fully supported,” Robinson said. “We were running the risk of communications failures. The new system has given us that peace of mind.”
In October, North Huntingdon police dispatchers handled 4,411 calls. In August, the dispatchers took about 3,330 calls.
Although radio equipment can be expensive, it's a necessity, said Daniel Stevens, spokesman for the Westmoreland County Department of Public Safety.
“The lifeline to an officer in the field is his radio,” he said. “An officer's backup is a radio call away, and if the radio doesn't work, that officer might not get backup. From 911 to local police dispatch to nationwide, officers' safety is No. 1.”
Robinson said she credits the township administration for helping obtain the new radio system.
North Huntingdon and Greensburg police are the only departments in the county to maintain their own dispatch center. The Murrysville Police Department made a transition for its dispatch center to the central 911 center in early December.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- North Huntingdon chief says officer has been creating a ‘negative environment’
- Highlights from chief’s statement to North Huntingdon commissioners
- Prom dress consignment sale a hit with Norwin High School students
- Norwin officials seek to make stadium more accessible
- New East Suburban YMCA official to focus on staff development
- Little help coming from Norwin municipalities with pothole damage
- North Irwin council members fill final vacancy