By Ralph Iannotti


Follow KDKA-TV: Facebook | Twitter

MONROEVILLE (KDKA) — Monroeville officials believe a new police dispatch/radio communication system will help not only police, firefighters and EMS personnel, but the system will benefit everyone in the community.

The new technology — including four transmission sites, rather than one, and new portable radios — puts all first responders on the same frequency.

“It gave us better coverage throughout the community and all the locations, both inside our shopping district as well as our buildings and certainly out on the roads,” Monroeville Police Chief Doug Cole said.

Five years ago, three people were hospitalized when a teenager opened fire inside Monroeville Mall. The gunfire sent panicked shoppers running for safety.

The incident underscored on-again, off-again radio problems with Monroeville Police and other first responders, as well as emergency responders from other communities, trying to communicate with one another because they were on different frequencies. There were also frustrating radio communication dropouts.

Ron Harvey is a retired Monroeville police officer who is now on the Monroeville Council.

“The [radio communication] problem was recognized. [The mall shooting] just amplified it and told us, look we have to start doing something. We can’t be waiting around,” Harvey said.

The new police dispatch center was funded through, among other things, state grants, police asset seizure money and a return on an unexpected investment.

No new taxes had to be raised.

“Our goal was to try to get to a system as quick as we could, but obviously as economically feasible [as possible] for the taxpayers,” Cole said.

Ralph Iannotti