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High-tech Fort Lee Communications Center speeds emergency response

Photo Credit: Courtesy FLPD
Photo Credit: Courtesy FLPD

SHOUT OUT: Modern technology meets ergonomic design at the new Fort Lee Communications Center, assisting dispatchers required to long shift during storms and other emergencies.

Dispatchers can adjust their work stations and either sit, stand — or change back and forth, Police Chief Keith Bendul said.

“This can be especially crucial when dispatchers are required to work extended hours such as during recent blizzards or other debilitating weather disturbances such as Super Storm Sandy,” he said.

Each station consists of 10 computer screens always showing the needed 911 telephone system, Computer Aided Dispatch system, various traffic cameras and DMV information.

Before, several software programs ran at once on four monitors, requiring dispatcher to change screens when trying to handle emergency calls, Bendul explained.

The $150,000 center also is fitted for the state’s planned upgrade to a new 911 system, he said.

The renovation also included new flooring and improved wiring beneath the floor “so when future improvements are necessary the floors won’t have to be re-opened,” not disrupting operations.

Technical upgrades also included redundant backup power for each dispatching position.

Another upgrade involves the ability to network other borough camera systems, giving dispatchers more real-time information that can be crucial in an emergency response.

According to Bendul:

The project took nearly two years to complete, in December of last year. The official reopening was in January.

It was managed by Dispatcher Stephen Mackenzie — who came up with the design — and now-retired Communications Center Supervisor Lt. Camille Milo.

Lt. Stephen Gallagher took over supervision after Milo left.

McKenzie has been a dispatcher with Fort Lee for the past 13 years after working for the Bergen County Police and is currently a Leonia volunteer firefighter.

Detective Thomas Porto of the department’s Computer Unit integrated the various computer systems and programs required to coordinate the communications and radio software.

What’s more, borough employees did most of the work, saving nearly $70,000.

PHOTO TOP (Courtesy FLPD): Fort Lee Communications Dispatcher Stephen Mackenzie, Fort Lee Police Lt. Stephen Gallagher


(l. to r.): Michael Maresca (DPW), Councilman Harvey Sohmer, Mayor Mark Sokolich, Dispatcher Stephen Mackenzie, Lt. Stephen Gallagher, Chief Keith Bendul, Deputy Chief Timothy Ford (PHOTO: Courtesy FLPD)

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