Published by The Prince George’s Sentinel on Wednesday, January 20, 2010
By Judah Ari Gross
Prince George’s County will receive $1.5 million to purchase 400 radios for police throughout the area, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown announced Thursday.
The funds will be used to acquire handheld, mobile and console radios for the county. These will operate on a 700MHz band, making it one of the most powerful systems in the country.
The $1.5 million was made possible by the federal stimulus package and will be distributed among 23 municipalities in Prince George’s County. College Park and Greenbelt will receive the most funding, more than $200,000 each and Brentwood, who reestablished their police department only in November, will receive the least, approximately $15,000.
Without this money, Riverdale Park Mayor Vernon Archer explained, there was no way the county could raise the necessary money for updating the police radio system for several years.
This new system will allow police departments throughout the county to communicate with each other. This was only possible through the use of citizens band radios and other less than reliable modes of communication.
This state of the art radio system will be better than anywhere else in the country, Vernon Herron, public safety director for Prince George’s County boasted.
This enhanced technology, Lt. Gov. Brown explained, will increase the amount of partnership and connection between cities and help reduce crime.
Now if there is an issue in Bladensburg, Brown gave as an example, they can receive help from officers in Edmonston.
Landover Hills’ Police Chief Henry Norris explained how these new, more powerful radios will assist in intra-county communication, where if there is a problem in a nearby town “we can be on the same radio and assist them.”
Riverdale Park Police Chief Teresa Chambers agreed, saying offices can “pick up that radio and have that backup.”
These new radios will also have the ability to immediately locate officers, ensuring those closest will be contacted first. This will result in “quicker response time for our citizens,” said Herron.
Besides the benefits these radios will have on the county itself they will also be used in the case of national emergency in the Capital area.
Greenbelt Police Chief Dan O’Neil explained the need for the radios, discussing the breakdown in communication that occurred on Sept. 11 because there was not a system in place to have different emergency response forces working together. The only way to communicate, O’Neil explained, was through cell phones.
“We sent a dozen officers,” he said. “There was no way to communicate. Now we can.”
Kristin Mahoney, the executive director of the governor’s office of crime control and prevention, discussed why Prince George’s County received this updated radio system. “It is the only county in the state that has so many municipalities,” she said.
“Howard County – one police department,” Mahoney said, whereas Prince George’s County has 24 separate police forces.
The news of the funding received positive reception by the police chiefs in attendance. The chiefs of the different cities were excited at the possibilities of this new system and many actively discussed collaboration with the police chiefs of the neighboring municipalities.
In reference to the trying economic times, the lieutenant governor promised, “When things get bad we will commit ourselves to being better.”