Perrysburg mayor shares recommendation to resolve police communication issues

Consistent with my previous statements, I am providing members of city council a recommendation for moving forward to resolve issues of interdepartmental law enforcement communications. This is in response to the law enforcement events that occurred on August 27, 2018.

As you know, I asked the Lucas County Sheriff to investigate those events, including a review of whether there was an issue regarding radio communication between jurisdictions. Neither I, nor any member of the Administration, received a complaint or concern from any official from neighboring jurisdictions about communication between agencies on August 27th.

The report issued by the Sheriff’s office identified the current process and equipment used by the Perrysburg Police Division as a potential weakness. It recommended the city evaluate its radio communications with neighboring jurisdictions to correct that weakness.

Pursuant to that recommendation, I directed additional funds be allocated to upgrading the Police Division’s communication capacity. With council’s cooperation and approval, $230,000.00 was allocated in the 2019 Budget for the purpose of improving communications with neighboring jurisdictions.

To achieve that goal, I requested Administrator Bridgette Kabat evaluate and review the current communications system to formulate a recommendation ensuring the safety of our first responders and the community in a cost-effective manner. A technical advisory committee comprised of representatives of Perrysburg, Wood County and Lucas County Communications staff, administrative personnel, Wood County Sheriff Wasylyshyn, Perrysburg Fire Chief Ruiz and Eric Willman of Willman Technologies collected information and provided input in order to make a recommendation to council regarding how best to provide enhanced interoperability between law enforcement agencies and the Perrysburg Police Division.

The advisory committee examined the current system and the process utilized to manually patch Perrysburg radios to allow direct communication with all of our neighboring communities. The advisory committee also reviewed the Wood County and Perrysburg Township radio systems and their capabilities. The committee identified options to provide the Perrysburg Police Division the broadest range communications between neighboring jurisdictions. Within these options, the committee concluded the creation of a new radio system while maintaining the current radio system would achieve interoperability and would cost approximately $225,000.00. In contrast, the same result could be achieved by equipping each patrol car with an additional radio and installing a permanent patch to allow communications with neighboring jurisdictions at a cost of approximately $65,000.00. It was the conclusion and recommendation of the advisory committee to pursue the second option, maintaining the current communication system while adding 800 MHz radios to each patrol car and key police personnel. This will provide enhanced officer/patrol interoperability not only with our immediate neighbors but also with any agency utilizing Lucas County’s 800 MHz Radio System. The group felt that this was the best way to achieve the goal of enhancing interdepartmental communication in a cost-effective manner.

Attached to this memorandum is the written recommendation from the law enforcement radio advisory committee. I want to take this opportunity to publicly thank the members of the advisory committee for volunteering their expertise and time to help Perrysburg address this very serious issue.

Due to the importance of this issue I have suggested council schedule a Committee of the Whole meeting immediately prior to our next regularly scheduled city council meeting to discuss the recommendation of the advisory committee. Members of the committee have expressed a willingness to discuss the matter with council in an effort to provide council with the information necessary to make a decision.

Lastly, while the Administration wants to move forward with the recommendation, I believe it would be prudent to not actually implement any changes until a new Chief of Police has been hired. I believe that person should have a say in this matter.

Law Enforcement Radio Advisory Group Minutes

Police Radio System Background and History

Tom Mackin

Mayor of Perrysburg