Peter Goonan, The Republican
SPRINGFIELD – City officials announced Thursday that the Police Department has been awarded a new federal grant of $267,703, that will include the purchase of 61 portable radios and approximately 35 computer work stations.
The funds were awarded by the U.S. Justice Department under the Edward R. Byrne Memorial Grant’s Justice Assistance Grant program. The funds, as pursued by the city, primarily target technology, communications and transportation, Police Commissioner William J. Fitchet said during a press conference at the police headquarters.
Fitchet was joined by U.S. Rep. Richard E. Neal, D-Springfield, Mayor Domenic J. Sarno and various police officials in announcing the grant.
The portable radios, also known as “walkie-talkies,” will replace some of the older, worn radios, Fitchet said. New, improved radio communication on the streets is vital in police work, he said.
Fitchet and Sarno praised Neal for assisting in the grant effort. The city pursued and received the maximum amount allowed when factoring in the city’s population, crime statistics and other factors, said Brian Elliott, a patrolman and grants writer for the department.
Sarno said Fitchet has “embraced technology” as a vital part of police work. The new Dell computer work stations and related software tie in to the Police Department’s computer needs.
The grant will also allow the purchase of one additional motorcycle and three, three-wheel motor scooters for the department.
Elliott said the department is “certainly very aggressive” in pursuing grant funds. During the past two years, Elliott has been involved in helping the department obtain grant awards totaling more than $2 million, Fitchet said.
The Byrne grant was named after a New York City police officer killed in the line of duty in 1988.
Fitchet said the federal grant helps preserve city funds for other Police Department needs.
The city has received various grant awards in recent years under the Byrne grant program including funds for overtime details, computer software and “Take Back the Streets” efforts, Elliott said.