New tower improves lines of communication for police

A new 75-foot radio tower with antenna, left, at the Prospect Police Department has allowed for better reception and enhanced communications for police portable radios. –RA ARCHIVE

A new 75-foot radio tower with antenna, left, at the Prospect Police Department has allowed for better reception and enhanced communications for police portable radios. –RA ARCHIVE

PROSPECT — Installed behind the Prospect Police Department on Center Street, a 75-foot radio tower punched the ice-cold sky on Monday morning.

The new tower, which has been in use since October, has allowed for better reception and improved communications for police portable radios, Police Lt. Nelson Abarzua said.

It has alleviated dead spots, and police can communicate over longer distances, he said.

Abarzua said police have tested its frequency all the way to Wallingford and from the west side of Middlebury and anywhere in Cheshire, Naugatuck and Waterbury.

Police officers also can use their portable radios without having to return to their vehicles to communicate to dispatch, he said.

The new radio tower is replacing one that is about 45 feet in height behind the police station at 8 Center St., Abarzua said. As soon as weather permits, the antenna for Town Hall and town crews will be relocated from the old one to the new tower, he said.

The Planning and Zoning Commission in September approved a special permit application for the radio tower.

Police now have their own channel for routine police operations. Troop I in Bethany continues to handle 911 calls and other emergencies, along with C-Med, the 911 center. Public works, the Town Hall and the senior center all use the town frequency.

Abarzua said each police portable radio now comes across the channel as an identification number so the police department and C-Med know which officer is responding.

Mayor Robert Chatfield said the project cost $2,500 to $3,000, which will be paid for out of the police overtime account. The cost included digging a hole, putting in a foundation and transferring the antenna from the old tower to the new one.

Officer Doug Fairchild, a part-time Prospect police officer who owns Fairchild Communications, installed the new tower.

A Prospect resident who wanted to remain anonymous donated parts of the tower, Abarzua said. Ed the Tree Man helped to install the tower by using a 100-foot bucket truck, and Gene McCarthy, assistant public works director, donated his labor and expertise, he said.

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