HARRISON, N.Y. -- Harrison police are working to increase their communications when they enter the town's elementary schools.
The town recently purchased four bi-directional antennas to be placed at each elementary school. The antennas will be provided by Metrocom Wireless, and act as an amplification system for police radios. The total cost of installing the antennas at the schools is $78,455. The cost will be paid for by the town, because the antennas are police equipment.
"Unfortunately we're trying to learn from past experiences throughout the nation, and our communications systems go down when we enter these school buildings," said Chief Anthony Marraccini.
He said that the buildings themselves were interfering with the signals for the two-way radios that officers need to contact police headquarters.
"They're concrete, with stone on the outside, and it's very difficult or near impossible for us to communicate once we're inside those buildings," Marraccini said.
The antennas work to boost the signal so that they can communicate through the obstructions.
Bi-directional antennas were installed at the high school in January, and at the middle school in May. Marraccini said that the antennas have proved to be effective.
"It's working. There are probably, at the high school, maybe one or two dead spots here and there that we can't cover. But for the most part we have good coverage."
Harrison schools and police placed a big emphasis on school security following the mass shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtow, Conn., last December. In addition to increasing the police presence at the schools, the high school also re-implemented its school resource officer program last year. The district also implemented a new safety plan that includes procedures such as lockdown drills, sign-in stations and making sure doors are locked throughout the day.
In addition to the antennas at the schools, police have also worked to increase their communication with the public. The department has recently contracted a new community alert system to warn residents in the event of an emergency. My Community Alert will send out text messages and emails to residents, replacing the old robocall system. The new system will be implemented next month.
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