Citing failures, Seekonk’s emergency responders request new radio system

SEEKONK, Mass. (WPRI) – Public safety officials in Seekonk are urging taxpayers to vote yes Tuesday on a bond that would replace their aging radio system.

Seekonk Police Chief Craig Mace said the “critical” radio system is more than a decade old and has “reached the end of its life.” According to Mace, police have logged more than 20 issues with the system in the past two years, including outright equipment failures.

Mace said the Seekonk Fire Department has dealt with similar issues in recent years.

“We have areas in town where the officers can’t hear or receive radio transmissions from the radio dispatchers,” he said.

Mace said the system currently uses telephone lines to transmit voice data.

“Equate it to having a cell phone that’s 10 years old or a laptop that’s 10 years old. Some of this equipment is at the point where it can just no longer be repaired and we have to replace it,” Seekonk Police Communications Director Christopher Campbell said.

Part of the goal of the the Seekonk Public Safety Radio Project is to limit the number of dead spots in the town, according to Mace. In addition, the chief said new multi-band radios would allow officials to operate on different radio frequencies in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

According to Mace, the cost to replace the current system is about $3 million. If the bond is approved Tuesday, Mace said taxpayer bills would increase by an average of $45 for the first year. The average annual impact would then decrease over a 10-year period, bottoming out at $33.44 in its final year.

“This is critical for them to be able to do their jobs,” Mace added. “This equipment needs to be replaced and if this does not pass tomorrow, it doesn’t remove the problem.”

Residents can cast their ballots at Seekonk High School from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.