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PIP police radio upgrades continue with portables donated to area emergency services

SHOUT OUT: The switch by Palisades Interstate Parkway police to a new radio system continued with the donation of several VHF portables to area emergency responders.

With the PIP department’s switch to the 700mhz statewide Public Safety Interoperable Communications (PSIC) platform, the previous VHF frequency has been reallocated for local police to communicate with the interstate parkway department and one another.

It will be used “for all agencies who respond on mutual aid to the Palisades Interstate Park Commission properties [on] land, sea, and air; police, fire or EMS from New Jersey, New York or New York City,” Acting PIP Police Chief Michael Coppola said.

“It will give all of these agencies a common operating channel that bridges the dynamic gap of communications used by all of us on a daily basis” and “make operations more efficient and safe for those involved,” Coppola said.

The 700MHz PSIC system is a statewide trunking radio platform primarily funded by the U.S. Office of Homeland Security to reduce the financial burden on public safety agencies required to meet federally imposed “narrow banding” mandates.

Agencies operating between 470-512 megahertz are facing a probability that the FCC will auction off that frequency band in 2021 — forcing them to find a new avenue.

The PSIC system is managed by the New Jersey Office of Information Technology and NJ State Police Radio Equipment Maintenance Unit.

The previous setup, including the frequency and infrastructure, was plagued with coverage, connectivity, and reliability problems. It also was costly for the PIP police to maintain.

Using the PSIC, the department is able to cut maintenance costs of the old system by 75%, increase coverage and capabilities, and “enhance the safety of both our officers and the public,” Coppola said.

It allows PIP police to move their radio infrastructure from Alpine to the Yonkers area “to enhance coverage along the Hudson River corridor,” the acting chief said.

The work is expected to be completed by mid-summer, he said.

The new system’s coverage is similar to a computing cloud, he said: “From an operational standpoint, it is able to provide cellular comparable coverage while in a traditional two-way radio form.

“This solution was a perfect fit for us, as we no longer need to maintain antennas, receivers, transmitters, connectivity, or maintenance costs,” Coppola said. “We are able to leverage advanced technology, which gives additional functionality such as channel capacity, GPS locations, and encryption.

“We will have the ability to track not only officer vehicle locations but the officers themselves.”

During a meeting last Friday, VHF Motorola XTS1500 portable radios were donated to:

Alpine Fire Department;
Closter EMS and Rescue;
Edgewater Fire Department and EMS;
Englewood Cliffs Fire Department;
Fort Lee Fire Department and EMS;
South Orangetown Ambulance Corps’
Piermont Fire Department;
Yonkers Police Department;

PHOTO, TOP, Courtesy PALISADES INTERSTATE PARKWAY PD (l. to r.): PIPPD Sgt. Roman Galloza, Fort Lee Fire Chief Mark Sulkov, Fort Lee Radio Superintendent Don Sauvageot, Englewood Cliffs Asst. Fire Chief Howard Mann, Piermont Asst. Fire Chief Don Hardy, Yonkers Police Sgt. Robert Akey, PIPPD Acting Chief Michael Coppola, Closter EMS/Rescue President Anthony Lupardi, Edgewater Fire Chief Patrick Chevalier

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