*EDITORIAL: Before the taxpayers foot the bill for over $6 Million, the public needs to demand the new radio system offer some transparency. Our police forces should NOT be able to hide behind 100% encrypted radio systems. The public and media demand that dispatch channels be left unencrypted to maintain transparency and public trust.

JACKSON – Radios, towers and more will be purchased through a $6.5 million bond ordinance.

Township Council members voted unanimously to authorize the issuance of $6,183,550 bonds and notes to finance a portion of the costs. The township would cover $325,450 as a down payment to satisfy the balance of the appropriation.

The project involves the construction of radio towers with various radio equipment and emergency generators. Several hundred mobile and portable radios will also be purchased as part of the project that needs to be completed during 2020.

Jackson Police Captain Richard Wagner, who heads the department’s investigative division, handles the department’s communication system as well. He described the department’s current radio system as obsolete and that acquiring parts to repair it has become very difficult in recent years.

“We are using the old system for now. The initial proposal for (the former system) goes back to 2004 and it was built in 2006 but now it has reached the end of its useful life,” Wagner said.

“They don’t make the parts for it anymore and the licensing for frequencies can not be renewed after 2020,” Wagner added.

In November, the council passed a resolution which authorized an agreement with Motorola Solutions, Inc. to purchase a police radio communications system. The agreement was in an amount not to exceed $5,655,520.85.

Wagner said that, “it will be a three-tower system.” He said that the township has property for one tower across the street from the Town Hall where there is a public works facility and two other sites are being explored.

“Those two other sites are to be determined. We will need just under 400 radios that will all be part of the Motorola System package deal,” Wagner said.

Wagner said he expects that pending planning board approval for the two sites the project should take around 14-16 months to complete.

“Motorola will be assembling it at the sites. We should have it complete before the summer of 2020,” Wagner said.

Jackson isn’t alone in needing to take action before 2020. “Howell went to the state and Toms River is in the process of applying. Many smaller towns use the county dispatch system. Plumsted has done that as well,” Wagner said.

Wagner said that Jackson’s radio system was shared by the Office of Emergency Management, emergency systems and public works department. “It was all on one system that was connected and Ocean County did not feel it could handle that capacity.” Council members also voted to finalize approval for the acquisition of a portion of Perchuk Lane from Victor and Kathleen Sevcenko.

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