Brookhaven Town Opens New Public Safety Communications Center

Photo Courtesy Town of Brookhaven

By Lorna Luniewski ~ In an effort to improve communication between all Town departments and divisions, Brookhaven Town unveiled a new Communications Center at a press conference, on Feb. 27. Located on the third floor of Town Hall, the state-of-the-art Center will allow the Town to communicate more readily with village, county and state partners. In addition, it will be the monitoring base for the Town’s surveillance cameras and drone technology, to ensure the security of Town properties and equipment.

TheCommunication Center was part of a larger project at Town Hall that includedemergency electrical power and an independent HVAC System to the CommunicationCenter, Call Center, Emergency Operation Center and Fire Prevention Offices, toallow continuous activity during any incidents.

The cost of theCenter, which was funded through a FEMA grant, was $961,000, of which the Townpaid $120,125.

SupervisorEdward Romaine kicked off the press conference by saying the Center was alongtime coming. Citing the more than 350 cameras throughout the Town, Romainesaid the goal is to protect the parks, centers and buildings, and to keepresidents safe. They give “a sense of protection” and let people knowif “they mess with Town property” there are “eyes on you.”He said the Center will become critical in times of emergencies, giving themthe opportunity to communicate with their partners at the village, county andstate level, which is “absolutely critical” during emergencies.

CouncilwomanJane Bonner said the need for the Center was brought to light after SuperstormSandy and the communication issues all of Long Island struggled with. Statingthat residents spend their hard earned tax dollars to elect representatives whoshare their values, to maintain and beautify marinas, parks and other Townfacilities, the use of cameras, which can be accessed by multiple levels ofgovernment, only makes the community safer to live, which is “cruciallyand vitally important to everybody’s quality of life in Brookhaven.”

Next to speakwas Public Safety Commissioner John Meehan, who thanked the many departmentsand staff whose vision, commitment and hard work over the past 3-1/2 yearshelped make the Center possible, taking the Town to the next step incoordinating its resources and keeping an eye on its investments. In addition,he said the current cameras will grow in number and will allow the Town to bemore proactive by highlighting locations that have had problems in the past.New hand-held and portable radios in Town vehicles allow personnel in the fieldto communicate with each other and other Town departments, as well as withother village and county departments. And, with all Town vehicles nowcontaining GPS tracking, dispatchers can direct personnel to where they areneeded more quickly and more efficiently. The Center is meant to focus oncommunication, coordination and observation, he said.

Chief FireMarshal Christopher Mehrman explained how the “Hiperwall” of cameras works (comprised of 12 large size high-resolution video screens,with built-in high-tech processors met to operate 24/7 and provide a widevariety of image sizes), and how dispatchers can use that information to sendpolice if needed. He also discussed the two drones that the Town now has, andhow they can be used to take pictures before and after a storm, allowing theTown to document storm damage and apply for funding if needed. For instance, henoted, the drones can do a flyover of Fire Island after a storm to accessdamage in real time. In addition, the drones can be used in other emergenciessuch as fires, etc.

According to apress release, the new Communications Center will be staffed by dispatchers whowill handle calls for the Town’s Department of Public Safety, which includesCode Enforcement, Bay Constables, Fire Marshals and Safety/EmergencyManagement. They will also handle the monitoring status of personnel andvehicles in the field assigned to the Department of Public Safety. Duringstorms and other emergencies, the Communication Center will be staffed byadditional dispatchers and other personnel as needed, integrated as part of theTown’s Emergency Operation Center. They will track storm conditions usingstrategically placed cameras and weather stations on the Town of Brookhaven’snorth and south shores while monitoring local news and weather outlets to feedthe latest information to the Emergency Operations Center.

“The Town’s Public Safety and Emergency Management personnelwork very hard to keep residents and property safe 24 hours a day, 7 days aweek,” said Supervisor Romaine in a press release. “This newCommunication Center will allow them to be better prepared for whateverincident occurs and to respond to it in a timely manner that could save lives.”