$20 million disaster response center Groundbreaking occurs for new police, fire communications hub

It’s a project to cost over $20 million and be built in an area of Jersey City overrun with prostitutes and old industrial buildings.

But according to Mayor Jerramiah Healy and other city officials, the new, state-of-the-art Jersey City Public Safety Communications Center, located at the intersection of Cornelison and Bishop avenues, will be worth the cost and welcome in a downtrodden area.

“As we go forward, this city will be in a much better position to have all our police, fire, and first responders be able to communicate together,” said Healy said at a groundbreaking ceremony for the center on Monday.

The two-floor, earthquake-proof communications center will house all police, fire, and Emergency Medical Services communications under one roof, which will enable dispatches to be processed faster to ensure a quicker response. It will also serve as a training facility for all the city’s Public Safety departments.

City architect Glenn Wrigley said construction on the center is expected to start in January and will take place over an 18- to 24-month period. Thus, the center will not open for at least two years.

The funding for the communications equipment was provided by a federal $12 million grant to the city following Sept. 11, 2001, and approximately $10 million will come of the city’s capital budget.

City Councilwoman Viola Richardson said the presence of the new center will “put the good prostitutes out of business” but, more importantly, will bring a heavy police presence into an area she represents.

“We are the last ones to get service but if the services are here, then we will score a quicker response,” said Richardson.Bringing public safety together

Representatives from the police and fire departments and other officials at the ceremony emphasized the importance of the center.

U.S. Congressman Steve Rothman (D-9th Dist.) said working with U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez and former U.S. Sen. and current N.J. Gov. Jon Corzine to get the federal funds was the “least we can do as elected officials.”

Police Chief Thomas Comey said Healy asked him to work with the Fire Department and the city on designing the center “for the future and to design for today.”

“This building will someday save lives,” said Comey. “We have integrated technology where now police, fire, and hopefully EMS will sit in the same command center in supervisory levels where we will be able to give the fire department real time video feed before they ever get to the scene of a fire.”

He also said they will also be videos provided to police before they go to the scene of a crime.

Fire Department Director Armando Roman said the project was several years in the making.

“As is the case with so many worthwhile projects, it takes the combination of the right time, the right motivation, and the right leader to get things moving forward,” said Roman.

Roman said the communication problems that occurred on 9/11 between the New York City fire and police departments brought about a communications center such as the one in Jersey City. Ricardo Kaulessar can be reached at rkaulessar@hudsonreporter.com


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