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CUMBERLAND â€” The Town Council unanimously approved a resolution Wednesday night authorizing Mayor Daniel J. McKee and the police department to purchase new desktops and related equipment as part of a department-wide overhaul of its computer systems.
The $23,635 to purchase the new computers will not come from town funds, but rather a 2009 COPS law enforcement technology grant.
Police Chief John R. Desmarais told the council Wednesday night that the department is planning to purchase 31 Hewlett Packard Compaq Pro 6300 small-form desktop personal computers with graphics cards and processors, as well as 10 17-inch monitors.
Desmarais said the new PCs will replace the department's current computers, which are 10 to 15 years old, and that the upgrade will be a benefit to the town.
"With the tragedy in Connecticut, we're looking to upgrade our entire communications system and this new technology will allow us to look at the cameras at the high school," the chief said.
Last year, the police department's communications division got a major overhaul with an $82,000 upgrade to the department's radio dispatch system. The money used to fund the upgrades was from a 2008 federal technology grant that covered the entire cost of the purchase. The money was used to enhance the currrent four-tower system, which relies on telephone lines to communicate to each other.
Specifically, the enhancements were in the form of a point-to-point system, which uses a wave system to eliminate the use of the telephone lines. That upgrade is expected to save the town $1,500 per month on telephone-line services.
The new equipment upgrade provides clearer communication between towers, which allows better communication among police, fire and rescue personnel.
Before the radio upgrades, there were times when the phone lines crossed over, resulting in police and fire communications on the same channel. With the new point-to-point system, the same frequency is being used, but the phone lines have been eliminated.
The Cumberland Police Communications Division is responsible for the dispatching of police, fire and EMS. Communications staff is comprised of a supervisor and six dispatchers. Along with radio communications, the dispatchers handle most of the incoming telephone calls from 17 different phone lines. These include three 911 lines, two alarm lines, a "hot line" that works in conjunction with the department's school base program and a dedicated TDD line for the hearing impaired.
The communications division accepts and screens an average of 4,140 911 calls per month and approximately 19,250 business and administrative calls.