It’s a day Monmouth County officials have reason to be proud. After 10 years in the making, the plan to build a new Monmouth County 9-1-1 Communications Center is getting under way. The Board of Chosen Freeholders and Sheriff Shaun Golden marked this event on Sept. 22, at a groundbreaking ceremony for the 45,000-square-foot center. “Communication operations have come a long way in Monmouth County,” said Freeholder Lillian G. Burry, who serves as liaison to the sheriff’s office. “Our first county communications area was located at the Hall of Records in a converted closet back in 1936. Now, this new facility will not only be a high-tech. state-of-the-art center, but will serve as a blueprint for 9-1-1 centers across the region.”
The center is being constructed behind the existing 9-1-1 facility on Kozloski Road in Freehold, which answers calls for 45 towns, Naval Weapons Station Earle and Fort Monmouth property, and dispatches for 10 police departments, 50 fire companies and 23 first aid squads. The present facility has been in operation since 1987 and can no longer accommodate the number of calls. For the year 2010, the communications center received 643,070 calls. “We have a large volume of calls coming into the center, and, it cannot facilitate the continued efforts of shared services and consolidation for dispatch and computer services,” said Sheriff Shaun Golden. “Our public safety telecommunicators are in cramped quarters and work with outdated equipment.”
The new state-of-the-art building will cost $16 million to construct and is part of Monmouth County’s capital improvement plan. It will have the capacity to provide shared communications services to all 53 municipalities throughout Monmouth County at a cost savings to towns. “This shared service will increase public safety and efficiency since it will provide direct dispatch of resources and response time reduction,” said Freeholder Thomas A. Arnone, who is liaison to the county’s Office of Shared Services. “In addition, towns will cut costs by not having to pay for their own police dispatchers or purchase radio equipment.”
Unlike the single radio frequency system used during the September 11th attacks, the new center will include an interoperability network system, which will allow all county and local responders to communicate with each other during large-scale emergencies. The center will also be home to the Office of Emergency Management. “Monmouth County did an exceptional job in terms of how the Office of Emergency Management coordinated efforts during Hurricane Irene,” said Freeholder Director Robert D. Clifton. “Having all emergency operations in one location with equipment that ties in local and county agencies through data and voice communications, will further ensure public safety throughout Monmouth County.”
The center is expected to be in full operation by spring of 2013. After studying several sites, it was determined that Kozloski Road was the most centrally located and will prove to be more cost effective when the transition takes place from the present center and radio tower.