AUGUSTA – On Thursday, Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, introduced LD 1889 An Act to Provide Authorization to Aroostook County to Use the Statewide Radio and Network System. This bill would grant County public safety agencies access to a reliable radio network already used by State public safety agencies.
“I’ve been hearing for quite awhile from public safety departments and dispatchers about the challenges of being unable to access reliable radio service throughout Aroostook County. To me, that’s just not acceptable, especially when an alternative exists in the Statewide Radio and Network System,” said Pres. Jackson. “Law enforcement, fire departments, emergency medical services, and other public safety entities in Aroostook need dependable communications, and I strongly believe that this bill is an important step towards making that possible.”
The recent shift towards the use of local law enforcement in conducting patrols previously performed by state troopers has underscored the need for access to the State’s radio Network. It would ensure that local law enforcement can communicate efficiently and effectively in emergency situations.
“LD 1889 will allow the Aroostook County Sheriff’s Office to use the statewide radio and network system, specifically tower sites and structures that house equipment. These state-owned tower sites are already established in Aroostook. They would enhance our radio communication capabilities in one of Maine’s most rural and remote counties. They will provide a level of safety to emergency services and public protection that we cannot offer at this time,” said Shawn D. Gillen, Aroostook County Sheriff in written testimony. “The Aroostook County Dispatch Center provides services not only to our own rural patrol deputies and corrections transport but also to local police, fire, and ambulance service providers and municipalities from the top of Aroostook to the bottom and parts of northern Washington and Penobscot Counties.”
Aroostook County has been making ongoing efforts to invest in telecommunications infrastructure for years. However, the urgency of the need for better radio and network service necessitates using systems already in place. The Statewide Radio and Network System is currently used by State public safety agencies such as State Troopers, Game Wardens, and Marine Resources officials, but County agencies do not have access to the same network.
LD 1889 faces additional work sessions in committee.