Don't miss chance to fix Norwich police radio system

It is not typical for us to get behind a bond referendum in August, particularly one that is not officially on the November ballot yet. But a plan to finally fix the communications system for Norwich police, allowing officers to reliably communicate with each other and with dispatch, is so important that we can already say with confidence voters should approve it.

The existing radio system is several decades old and there are dead spots in the hilly terrain of Norwich. Having police unable to communicate in an emergency is obviously dangerous, both for the officers and the public they are sworn to protect. It also exposes the city to a huge liability if the failure of the radio system is tied to a tragic outcome.

Norwich needs to fix this and that has been recognized for a long time. But Norwich waited so long it had become expensive to replace the system. An earlier review placed the price tag at more than $10 million. City officials balked at the cost. (Though we note that left-handed starting pitcher David Price of the Boston Red Sox is paid three times that amount annually. We do have some strange priorities in this country.)

In any event, a revamped plan has come with a far more manageable $2.7 million estimate. It would piggyback on the state’s emergency broadcast infrastructure. Utilizing state radio towers would significantly reduce the amount of new construction needed to replace the existing system. Once completed, the system would assure that police officers could depend on their portable and squad-car radios.

In a recent meeting with the editorial board, Mayor Peter A. Nystrom expressed confidence the voters would approve the measure if it appears on the Nov. 6 ballot as planned. One would hope so. Norwich is fortunate that something serious has not happened due to this unacceptable situation.

The city expects to subsequently expand the system to unify communications between its five volunteer and one full-time paid department.

The City Council needs to move expeditiously to give voters the chance in November to finally address this problem.

 

 

 

The Day editorial board meets regularly with political, business and community leaders and convenes weekly to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Pat Richardson, Editorial Page Editor Paul Choiniere, retired Day editor Lisa McGinley, Managing Editor Tim Cotter and Staff Writer Julia Bergman. However, only the publisher and editorial page editor are responsible for developing the editorial opinions. The board operates independently from the Day newsroom.

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