FROM DREAM TO REALITY — New Lyndhurst PD comm center opens

A few months ago, Lyndhurst Police Lts. Paul F. Haggerty and Vincent Auteri said I was really going to enjoy getting a tour of the department’s new communications center. The work was underway after a decade of planning. However, it slowed down because of, you guessed it, the COVID-19 pandemic.

But after all the planning, the dream of setting up a state-of-the-art center in the basement of headquarters is finally a reality. And on Tuesday, Feb. 23, we got the tour — and it certainly didn’t disappoint.

It’s situated in what used to be a fingerprinting room. One first walks into a foyer of sorts which may be used for break-out discussions, etc. A sliding, tinted-glass door, separates that part of the room from where the really amazing technology lives — and where the heart and soul of the Lyndhurst Police Department is.

The second one walks into that room, it’s like a return to something you might have seen on the TV show “24.”

To the immediate right and left are two desks — where the dispatcher and/or a supervisor sits. There’s a radio console to communicate with the officers on the streets. There are numerous computer monitors, where there’s access to DMV records and a bunch of other pertinent information.

One screen includes a map of the entire Township of Lyndhurst, where there are digital markers where every single police unit is currently located. As the units move, so, too, does the map displays.

Another remarkable screen has another map — and when a person calls 911 for help, it immediately pings the precise location of the caller and displays the number — even if they’re calling on a mobile phone. Think about that for a moment and recall stories, from the past, where police were unable to locate callers who were phoning in on a mobile.

No longer is that an issue for the LPD.

The technology is absolutely unreal. Surreal almost.

And as remarkable as all of that is, on a long wall in the front of the room is more than a dozen, high-definition flat screens that have live, real-time HD video of strategic locations inside Town Hall, in township schools and from a mobile camera unit that, at the day we toured the center, was stationed at the DeJessa Bridge linking Lyndhurst and Nutley.

Those cameras are equipped with automated license plate readers.

Two of the screens were funded by a CARES grant — and include thermal imagery — and display a person’s body temperature as they approach the cameras attached. There’s even a camera in the room where those arrested are first taken before entering HQ for processing, so their temperatures may be taken.

Also, in the coming months, 10 more cameras will be installed in strategic locations throughout Lyndhurst to help the police to better fight crime.

So while Lyndhurst police officers on the street are fighting crime, there are others doing so remotely — and because of this, many sectors of the township will be covered when police are elsewhere. And while Lyndhurst has always enjoyed a reputation as being very safe, it’s a pretty good bet to be accurate saying it’s never been safer.

A decade in the making

This massive undertaking was originally the brainchild of Paul N. Haggerty, retired Lyndhurst police captain and current OEM Coordinator, township communications director and volunteer firefighter. His son, Lt. Paul F. Haggerty, took over for his dad, but not before the elder Haggerty saved the township a lot of money because of his expertise.

“His passion for the trade and dedicated work in designing and completing the necessary frequency coordination and FCC licensing application procedures saved an estimated $300,000 in outside consultant fees,” Paul F. Haggerty said of his dad.

The project was funded by an ordinance through the OEM at a total cost of just under $1.4 million. Of course, that seems like a complete bargain when you truly observe the advance equipment. It was completed with technology from Motorola Solutions and a local company called Packetalk.

It was a necessary project, Paul F. Haggerty says, because the previous system was two decades old — and quite antiquated.

“The project replaces a 20-year outdated communications system in disrepair with the inability to obtain replacement parts,” Paul F. Haggerty said. “The old system had numerous band aids and patches in place which were made with parts acquired from other local agencies, that had replaced similar system several years ahead of us. Essentially we were operating on life support.

“The legacy Motorola system used copper Verizon tie lines to link all of the sites, which incurred a monthly cost, and are going to be terminated since being phased out by Verizon in the near future as most agencies have switched to microwave or fiber lines. Packetalk of Lyndhurst built a secure wireless network for public safety which the township owns and does not cost a monthly fee and can be used for township-wide surveillance cameras.”

Haggerty pointed to some highlights of the project, including:

  • New antennas and necessary cabling at five strategic sites within the township.
  • New portable and mobile radios for all police officers and newer police vehicles, which was completed in the first phase of project.The implementation of these radios drastically cut down on failures within the township while the new system was being built out. (These communications are now encrypted and may not be intercepted by scanners.)
  • New portable radios and paging devices for thefire department, EMS and public schools.
  • Packetalk wireless network inclusive of 10 street cameras.
  • New dispatch consoles and furniture for dispatch points.New consoles offer a more advanced resource accountability and implements interoperability.
  • New logging system to record all phone calls and radio transmissions handled by communications center.
  • New Emergency Call Works 911 system to replace the original system used by the department. (911 calls come in directly the LPD HQ.)
  • Implementation of Emergency Alerting System for schools within the township to provide immediate critical information.

In all, Haggerty says he’s thrilled to be able to complete a project initiated by his dad — and he’s certain the township and its police department are better equipped to handle the challenges of modern policing.

“The new communications room offers a more operationally efficient working environment which allows for social distancing, a breakout area for critical incident operational planning and supervision,” he said. “The room was built with the future in mind. We were not thinking for the moment — it was planned and developed for years ahead, which allows room for growth.”

Meanwhile, Chief Richard L. Jarvis Jr. took time to thank Mayor Robert B. Giangeruso and the entire Lyndhurst Board of Commissioners for their “continued support of our agency and local first responders, and especially for understanding the priority for the overall safety of our residents and first responders to complete this project.”

Auteri, similarly, echoed these sentiments.

“This is a significant upgrade to our public safety communications and it was designed to increase efficiency during both emergency situations and everyday law enforcement functions,” Auteri said. “Our ability to respond adequately to emergencies and other types of calls for service relies directly on our ability to communicate quickly, clearly and in real-time — and this new communications infrastructure does just that.”

Learn more about the writer ...

Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.