Dukes County Sheriff Receives $1.7M Grant for Public Safety Radio System

Martha's Vineyard currently relies on 1980's radio system technology...

DUKES COUNTY – Dukes County Sheriff Robert W. Ogden is pleased to announce the award of a $1,726,249 Development Grant from the State 911 Department for the regional public safety radio system upgrades in Fiscal Year 2020.

The community of Martha’s Vineyard currently relies on outdated, circa 1980’s, radio system technology. The funding for the overhaul of the current system has come from the Commonwealth in phases. A Fiscal Year 2019 Development Grant was awarded in the amount of $1,500,000, which funded Phase 1(a) of the upgrade; this year’s award will fund Phase 1(b). Maintenance costs not covered by the Development Grant will be covered by assessments from Island Towns who utilize the radio system under the Cooperative Agreement for Emergency Communications and Dispatch Services.

Phase 1 of the upgrade project is punctuated by negotiating agreements to establish and construct radio tower sites, and by the engineering involved in constructing the complex system that will connect the entire island. “Think of a cell phone… you may purchase a brand new smartphone but without a network connection, your phone is essentially useless. The system we are in the process of engineering is establishing the crucial infrastructure needed for the next steps,” explained Deputy Anthony Gould, Telecommunicator and internal project manager.
With five radio tower sites needed throughout the Island in order to provide a reliable and resilient service to first responders and the broader Martha’s Vineyard community, the Dukes County Sheriff’s Office is currently in the critical final stages of negotiating agreements with several entities for site acquisition, while engineering for the sites that have already been secured. “It is crucial that we are able to advance this phase of the grant in order to move forward. A good analogy to describe Phase 1 would be that we are ‘setting the table’,” said Sheriff Ogden. “Phase 2, or ‘the meat and potatoes’ of the upgrade, will be establishing the interconnection between the sites and Regional Emergency Communication Center, known as backhauling, as well as hardening the sites, including establishing power supply systems.” Phase 2 will also bring the installation of first responder communications channels (Police, Fire and EMS).

Finally, Phase 3 will usher the replacement of portable mobile radios with more reliable digital technology for first responders, and enhance the efficiency and reliability of communication between agencies on the Island and statewide, maximizing interoperability. “This is what we are pouring the foundation for now - critical safety for first responders and for our community as a whole,” emphasized Deputy Gould. Sheriff Ogden would like to recognize the leadership of all Selectmen, Town Administrators and Town Meetings on Island, who have embraced the need to support the Island-wide system upgrades financially. The Dukes County Sheriff’s Office is also thankful for the continued cooperation of telecommunication companies who will be supporting the future expansion of critical system upgrades. Sheriff Ogden credited the hard work of his staff - Deputy Anthony Gould, Major Susan Schofield and Lt. Col. Peter Graczykowski - for securing the funding and overseeing the project implementation.

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