State Bond Commission to consider $500,000 grant for Norwich police radios

Norwich — The state Bond Commission is scheduled to vote Tuesday on a $500,000 urban development grant to cover part of the $2.7 million cost to replace the city police radio system.

Voters in November approved a $2.7 million city bond referendum to replace the city’s obsolete and failing police radio communication system by tying in to the state communication network.

Police Chief Patrick Daley said Wednesday he has been working with the state and communications system contractor Motorola every day and hopes the new system will be online by September. Daley thanked local legislators who sought state funding for the project.

“I can’t thank them enough,” Daley said. “We’re trying to do everything we can to minimize the cost to the city.”

The city’s radio system dates to the 1940s and has been plagued by dead zones and dropped calls as officers have attempted to communicate with the police station to request backup or to update on situations. By partnering with the state radio system, the city expected to save several million dollars. State Sen. Cathy Osten, D-Sprague, whose district includes Norwich, said the state grant would cut the city’s cost by another 20 percent.

Osten said Norwich Mayor Peter Nystrom expressed to her that the radio replacement was the city’s top priority, so she made it her priority in requesting the bond funds.

“I was a corrections officer for over 20 years,” Osten said in a news release announcing the pending grant. “I know how important fully operable radio communications are to the security of front-line peace officers and to the tens of thousands of people they protect. I want to thank the governor and the State Bond Commission for helping to fund this public safety project in Norwich and for saving local taxpayers a lot of money.”

State Rep. Emmett Riley, D-Norwich, applauded the state funding in a news release Wednesday.

“I am very pleased our police station will have a state of the art system that will facilitate operations and contribute to delivering public safety services for Norwich residents,” Riley said in the release. “These are funds well spent and I look forward to this project moving forward.”

c.bessette@theday.com

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