2007-10-04 / Front Page

Grant improves police dept. communications


LONG BRANCH - The city Police Department has been awarded $30,000 in state funds to purchase radio and additional communications equipment to improve public safety in the city.

Long Branch police Lt. Lyndon Johnson said the city plans to use the funds to purchase equipment to switch the radio frequency that the department currently uses.

"Right now we share a frequency with Suffolk County," Johnson said. "It's been a problem. We have retained two new frequencies. We will use this grant to purchase the equipment to transmit on those frequencies.

"When we change our frequency, 90 percent of our communication problems will be solved," he said.

This marks the third year that the city has received the grant through the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant, Johnson said.

"This is a grant that was put out to help inadequacies in communicating," Johnson said last week.

"One of the biggest problems in 911 was the lack of communication. The federal government has been trying to address that problem.

"When all of the police and fire departments involved with 911 were asked what their biggest problems were, they all said that they couldn't communicate with each other.

"This money is so agencies can communicate," he added.

The Bureau of Justice Assistance announced last month that $1,037,238 in Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant funding will be distributed among 16 state police forces in Monmouth and Essex counties.

Long Branch, Asbury Park and Neptune Township were the Monmouth County police departments chosen to receive $91,698 through the grant.

The funds will be divided evenly among the three towns, according to Michael Pagan, spokesman for Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg (D-N.J.), who said Long Branch will be awarded $30,566.

"New Jersey's finest will have the funds they need to acquire new protective gear, update communications systems and increase community police patrols," said Lautenberg, who is a cosponsor of the legislation to reauthorize the program.

"These resources will help law enforcement remove drugs from our streets and make high-crime areas safer," Lautenberg said.

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) cosponsored the bill.

In the past three years, Long Branch has received approximately $75,000 from the grant, Johnson said.

With the funds, the department has purchased several pieces of equipment to help update its communication capabilities, Johnson said.

It has purchased an interoperability communications unit for approximately $12,000 to $15,000, which allows Long Branch police to bring in other police departments for assistance and to hook up their radios to the city's frequency, Johnson

"This allows us to communicate with all agencies," Johnson said.

The city also spent approximately $16,000 on encrypted radios, Johnson said.

"We do not have a secure frequency so anyone with a scanner can pick up our frequency," Johnson said. "If we are doing undercover work, we can't communicate without other people hearing."

The Edward Byrne Memorial State and Local Law Enforcement Assistance Grant program is a partnership among federal, state and local governments with the goal of creating safer communities with an emphasis on violent crime and serious offenders, according to a press release from Lautenberg's office.

The program was created by the Anti- Drug Act of 1988 and is named after Edward R. Byrne, a New York police officer killed in the line of duty in 1988, the release states.

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