Somerset police chief outlines need for
new Somerset County 911 radio system
By ERIC KIETA firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted: Thursday, January 16, 2014 9:20 pm
The last time the Somerset County 911 radio system was updated was in the late ’90s, according to Somerset Borough Police Chief Randy Cox.
He said that although some Somerset County residents are upset about the approval of a new $8.2 million 911 radio system, it is essential for public safety.
Cox was the guest on the January edition of “DA Live,” a monthly online feature on dailyamerican.com.
“If you are trying to keep a 1992 car on the road, not because you have sentimental attachment to it, not because it’s a classic car you don’t want to give up, but just because it is your basic means of transportation,” Cox said. “That at some point is going to become both very expensive to maintain, and it’s also going to come to the point that you’re going to have to expect that vehicle to fail.
“We’re in the same situation in Somerset County with the radio system.”
The Somerset County Commissioners approved a 2.48-mill take hike at a Dec. 31 meeting, with about a half mill of the increase being used to fund the $8.2 million radio system.
Cox said that some parts of the current radio system were manufactured in the ’70s and ’80s, making it difficult to find replacement parts for repairs. He added that it is also difficult to find a technician to service the system.
“Another analogy would be if you were still using the first computer that you ever bought,” Cox said. “You’re not going to find anyone to service it.”
Because of these issues, Cox said, a radio system failure could possibly endanger resident’s lives, causing delays in response time from officers, firefighters and ambulance services.
The new system will place all emergency responders on the same system, which should allow them to communicate more effectively.
Another topic Cox spoke about was Somerset Borough Police K-9 Arny.
Cox said the 8-year-old German Shepherd is a cross-trained dog, meaning he is certified as a narcotics dog, as a tracking dog, following the scent of a wanted person, and as a tracing dog, following the scent of a missing person.
“(Arny) has been invaluable over the years,” Cox said. “The things he’s been able to accomplish, and plus the other things I believe he’s been able to deter.”
Cox said the normal career expectancy of a police dog is usually 8 to 10 years.
“We’re going to have to start looking at when Arny’s retirement date is going to be.” he said. “We are prepared that at some point Arny is going to retire, and go off and become solely the (Somerset Borough Police K-9 Handler Brian) Harbart family pet.”
After Arny’s retirement, Cox said, a new dog will be added to the borough police force.
The entire interview, in which Daily American Editor Brian Whipkey talks to Cox about the differences of state and municipal police, methamphetamine production in Somerset County and other county-related issues, will be available on www.dailyamerican.com this afternoon.
The next “DA Live” is to air Feb. 20, with Somerset County Emergency Management Agency Director Rick Lohr and Somerset County 911 Coordinator Dave Fox.