Marlboro councilors vote to keep police broadcasts internal

MARLBORO — Police services in Marlboro will be provided by the Marlboro Police Department and will not be subcontracted to the Monmouth County operation.

At a Township Council meeting on November 10, members of the governing body voted unanimously “yes” to update Marlboro’s existing communications system and allow the police to continue providing the service.

In accordance with that vote, the councilors passed two resolutions:

• Resolution 2022-254, Authorization of New Jersey Interoperable Communications System User Agreement. This resolution relates to the contract that the municipality has with the police control room;

• Resolution 2022-255, authorizing a contract with Motorola Inc. for communications equipment and accessories for the Township of Marlboro Department of Public Safety.

The issue of police reporting services in Marlboro has been discussed by city officials at various times throughout 2022. The options were to keep the reporting services in-house or transfer the reporting services to the Monmouth County control room.

In May, Marlboro Police Chief Peter Pezzullo offered options and recommendations regarding the hotline:

• Put a “Band-Aid” on the current system and fix only what absolutely needs to be fixed. This option requires ongoing maintenance and updates;

• Maintain a “township only” system. Marlboro would be fully responsible for the technology and upgrades;

• To switch to the Monmouth County transmission system. This option would reduce redundancy in Marlboro. By making the switch, emergency calls would go through the county before being sent to Marlboro. This option adds an extra step to emergency calls. This decision would prevent Marlboro from going through the Public Service Answering Point (PSAP) system;

• To use a state-wide system. Marlboro would get a new system and the city could still fall under the PSAP system.

At the Nov. 10 council meeting, Pezzullo said police agree that using the system statewide is the best option for the municipality right now. Using the system statewide ensures that Marlboro has the same infrastructure as the rest of the state.

One of the reasons for choosing this option is that during power outages, which occurred after Superstorm Sandy hit New Jersey in October 2012, Monmouth County was “overwhelmed” by emergency calls and Marlboro dispatchers stepped in to contain the overflow caused by the PSAP system remedy, according to Pezzullo.

“I make this recommendation not only as Chief of Police, but as a resident of Marlboro for more than 40 years. It is my job to provide the residents with the best product,” he said.

For the communication system in the township to operate effectively, the Federal Communications Commission requires the technology to be above 700 megahertz. Marlboro currently operates at 450 megahertz.

“It’s my job (to make sure) everyone gets home safe,” said Paul Lorenz, who has been a Marlboro police officer for more than 15 years. He said the current system has equipment issues.

Since 1968, the Marlboro Police Department and the township fire department and emergency medical services receive calls directly from the Marlboro emergency room.

According to Pezzullo, the control room receives more than 33,000 calls annually.

Township Council Vice President Antoinette Dinuzzo said: “Our system is broken. This is a very, very, very serious discussion. We have spoken to many people, listened to reports and it is in our community interest that lives depend on of this discussion.”

At the rally, Mayor Jonathan Hornik accepted a $50,000 donation from Ray Catena’s car dealerships.

The money provided by Ray Catena will be used to purchase public safety radios, according to Business Administrator, Jonathan Capp, who said the $50,000 would be divided as follows: Township of Marlboro, Division of Police, $25,000; Board of Fire Commissioners, Fire District No. 1, $8,333; Board of Fire Commissioners, Fire District No. 2, $8,333; and Board of Fire Commissioners, No. 3 Fire District, $8,333.

The council members passed the two resolutions that will allow the police station to update its equipment to current standards and maintain those services within the community, rather than shifting responsibility to the county operation.

The upgrades include new IT-based shipping consoles; a new radio system; 128 mobile units; new cell tower infrastructure for better penetration; replacing computers in the dispatch center that allow Marlboro to openly share information with the county; and building a disaster recovery site.

In the event of an emergency, such as a power outage due to a natural disaster, the disaster recovery site will be used as an additional center for dispatchers to answer calls from Marlboro and county overflow calls.

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