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Pa. county commissioners approve $13 million purchase of emergency radio upgrades

The Cumberland County Commission also approved applications for grants to fund a rapid DNA testing initiative and to replace protective vests

Cumberland County commissioners approve method to process $13 million bulk purchase of radios

Currently, the county uses an L3 Harris Open Sky system for its emergency calls. The county plans to switch to a P25 system using a Motorola-based platform.

Cumberland County, PA - Sheriff’s Office

By Joseph Cress
The Sentinel, Carlisle, Pa.

CUMBERLAND COUNTY, Pa. — Cumberland County commissioners have approved a method to process the $13 million bulk purchase of radios to implement an upgraded communications system among first responders.

Currently, the county uses an L3 Harris Open Sky system for its emergency calls. The county plans to switch to a P25 system using a Motorola-based platform.

The changeover will require the replacement of many of the 3,765 mobile and portable radio units used by police, EMS, fire units and local and county government agencies.

The county made a bulk purchase of Motorola Solutions radio units for 10 county agencies and 76 partner agencies. During a meeting last week, the commissioners approved a capital project request from the county public safety department for the $13 million in P25 radios.

“The county will be paying the invoices on their behalf under the Motorola contract,” said Bob Shively, county director of public safety. Those agencies will reimburse the county for the cost of the radios,

The county must pay about $34.8 million to install infrastructure to support a P25 system. This includes radio components for 19 tower sites needed to run the network.

Business Central

In other action, commissioners approved a 10-year agreement with Freehold Enterprises for the lease of four areas totaling 8,832 square feet in the Business Central building, 14-20 N. Hanover St., Carlisle.

The amount the county pays in rent will increase from the current $11.50 per square foot to $15.50 in year one, said Brent Durham, director of facilities management. He said there is a 2% cost escalation each year after that.

In 2014, when Freehold purchased Business Central, the county put money into the renovation of the building, Durham said. In exchange for that investment, Freehold reduced the rent from $20.50 to $11.50 per square foot.

The new agreement factors in common area maintenance charges that will result in a 30% increase in costs from 10 years ago, Durham said. “It’s still a very competitive rate for our area.”

The county is evaluating the future program needs of its departments and functions. The agreement with Freehold includes an opt-out clause if it is determined that space within the Business Central building is no longer needed.

“I’m not happy with the increase,” Commissioner Kelly Neiderer said. “I can understand the rate.” She said that for years the county has been paying under the market rate.

Court system

The commissioners also approved a capital project request for $215,000 from the court administration office. The money will be used to move the current computer system to a cloud-based platform, said Melissa Calvenelli, district court administrator.

The courts currently use a home-grown system built by a programmer who no longer works for the county information management technology office, she said. “We are starting to have significant issues with it. It is difficult to fix.”

Switching over to the new platform would save the county about $5,500 in staff costs and make the system more accessible to staff, Calvenelli said. The new platform would enable the judge to have greater access to audio court recordings and would streamline the process for those requesting transcripts, she said.

In other action, the commissioners:

—Authorized staff to apply for a $284,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to support the rapid DNA testing initiative in the county forensic lab.

—Authorized the county sheriff’s office to apply for a $4,348 Department of Justice grant to pay half the costs of the replacement of seven protective vests for personnel.


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