Wilton considers cost for new police communication system

Wilton Police Chief John Lynch has said that the police communication system in town needs to be updated.

Wilton Police Chief John Lynch has said that the police communication system in town needs to be updated.

John Kovach / Hearst Connecticut Media

WILTON — Police Chief John Lynch says it’s time for his department’s communication system to be updated.

The next step will be to determine whether the town police will fall in line with the state police’s communication system or completely revamp its own system.

One of the key factors in making that decision, according to First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice, is the cost of each project.

“We have done an analysis ourselves, within the town, and I think the numbers that we found were that it would cost about $2.5 million for a standalone system and about $4 million to join the state system,” Vanderslice said. “We are engaging in a contract to perform an analysis between going to that state system or replacing the (system) we have now, independent of state.”

According to Vanderslice, the Board of Selectmen has authorized her to execute a contract with New England Radio Consultants.

“It should happen fairly quickly,” Vanderslice said of the consulting job. “With what we have seen in the possible difference in price, we want to have someone else look at it.”

Lynch has spoken to other police chiefs around Fairfield County who have been forced to make similar decisions in updating their dispatch systems. During a recent Board of Selectman meeting, Lynch said, “roughly half of the departments” have joined the state’s dispatch system, while the other half have chosen to completely update their own.

Vanderslice said she has also spoken to municipal leaders, pointing out “many towns are seeing the same large disparity in price.”

The first selectwoman said was carefully examining the costs and didn’t want to rush to make a decision.

However, the project is considered a priority by the town and its police department.

The difference, beyond price, is the scope of work and equipment, according to Vanderslice.

“To join the state system, we have seen that it would require different equipment on our towers,” the first selectwoman said, explaining there would be more infrastructure needed for the state-aligned project. “The burden of the cost for that new infrastructure to join the state system would fall onto us. Then, there are ongoing operation expenses that we have to take into account as well.”

Vanderslice said the initial plan was to bring this proposal to the annual town meeting. With the Board of Selectmen approving the contract for the consultants to give estimates, the town and its police department will consider its next step once the prices are finalized.