Wilton police captain: Decision on new emergency radio system to come within two weeks

Photo of J.D. Freda
Wilton Police Captain Thomas Conlan explained the severe need for a new emergency communications system that provides interoperability with nearby departments for mutual aid.

Wilton Police Captain Thomas Conlan explained the severe need for a new emergency communications system that provides interoperability with nearby departments for mutual aid.

Erik Trautmann / Hearst Connecticut Media

WILTON — The town’s first responders, including its police department, fire department and emergency medical services, are set to make a decision within the next two weeks on whether they will present a plan for a new emergency communications system or fall in line with the state police system.

While initial estimates showed that a standalone system would cost less than adding equipment to join the state police radio system, a full study has been done by Paul Zito, owner of New England Radio Consultants.

That study was completed over a month ago, but Police Capt. Thomas Conlan — who has taken the lead on this project — has kept Zito’s findings close to the vest. He said Monday that the police department is set to have another meeting with other first responders this week to try to come to a consensus after “evaluating the different systems.”

Conlan told the Police Commission on Monday that the state system in general is very comprehensive, having done a “lot of upgrades” and has offered to share its infrastructure with municipal police forces around Connecticut. He added that the state’s system covers and was built close to some of the nearby major state highways.

The police captain confirmed this would “definitely be something” that the town decides within the “next week or two.” That decision will be presented to the Board of Selectmen.

Conlan again reiterated Monday that funds allocated to Wilton from the American Rescue Plan Act could be used for this large-scale project. He estimated that construction on implementing a new system could take roughly 18 months.

Police Commission Chair Donald Sauvigne agreed it may take time to install all of the hardware needed around town. Conlan said “a lot” goes into the equipment on the towers and in the radio rooms, but said the partnering vendor Motorola has been “doing this a long time.”

Nevertheless, Conlan said this project is a long time coming, as the town’s current system used by police, the fire department and emergency medical services is at its “end of life.”

The equipment that the town uses to radio emergencies to one another and back to headquarters and dispatch was built in 2002. Its lifespan was roughly 15 years, according to the police captain.

As of 2019, Conlan said, the manufacturers of the town’s current digital ultra-high frequency infrastructure have not made any new equipment. Since then, the town has been running on replacement parts stored in a warehouse in central Connecticut by NorcomCT.