The township of Weehawken will receive a grant of $149,000 from the New Jersey State Department of Law and Public Safety so the town can purchase new equipment that will benefit any crisis situation.
According to Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner, the township was notified by the state Attorney General’s office, which oversees the Law and Public Safety Department, that Weehawken was going to receive the grant sometime next month.
The grant is called the Local Domestic Preparedness Equipment Grant, which has been filtered down from the federal Department of Homeland Security. It is allocated to local municipalities that are under duress in times of crisis.
Weehawken was considered eligible for the grant because of its proximity to several areas that have to be monitored in case of an emergency, like the Lincoln Tunnel, the NY Waterway ferry terminal and eventually next year, the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail system.
“We did an upgrade of our system after 9/11,”Turner said. “But the blackout [last July] was the clinching thing. Our communication systems were inadequate in the case of an emergency. Since Weehawken is in the center of transportation for the area, it is important that we have the necessary equipment. As it’s been proven, we provide a major evacuation route in the case of an emergency, like 9/11 and the blackout.”
With the grant money, the township will be able to purchase 20 new portable police radios, with multiple channels, including those only used in the case of an emergency.
The radios – 18 of which would go to the police department and two would be utilized by the Weehawken Volunteer First Aid Squad – would replace the communication system currently in place.
The township will also be able to purchase six mobile data computers that can access state and federal information without having to use the radio system. The laptop computers will be fitted in the township’s police vehicles.
Weehawken will also be able to purchase a new larger emergency generator that will provide emergency electricity to Town Hall and the police department in times of crisis.
“The one we had was working, but we never knew for how long and it was never able to keep the whole building going,” Turner said. “Now, whether the disasters are man-made or natural, we’ll be able to keep our base of operations functioning.”
Turner said he was pleased that the township was considered to receive such a large sum.
“Ever since the federal Department of Homeland Security was established, they’ve tried to insure that every emergency procedure is covered and there are ways to make things less chaotic,” Turner said. “The state recognized Weehawken’s role in the time of need, that we are in the middle of the hub and we’re fortunate to receive the funds. It’s a pretty substantial grant for a town of our size.”
Turner said the township just received the notification of the award, so the purchase of the new equipment has not occurred.
“We can probably start the process in early February and see what we have to do to meet the appropriate specifications and whether we have to go out to bid,” Turner said.
Although the funding was earmarked for emergency situations, the new equipment will help the police department in everyday scenarios.
“We plan to use the computers on a daily basis,” said Deputy Police Chief Robert DelPriore. “It’s going to enhance our day-to-day operations. We’re going to be able to receive information quicker and the computers will put us more in line with other police departments. The cars will be able to communicate information to one another. This upgrades our existing equipment immensely. We hope to be able to use this equipment for a long time.”
“It’s all state-of-the-art equipment,” Turner said. “It’s going to help us, because we’ll have things we never had before. It’s definitely a substantial upgrade.”