Although it doesn't happen very often, the city has found that there are dead spots in the area where radio communication is impossible.
"Certain spots in the city are dead spots," said Lieutenant Joe Blaettler, who now works out of the mayor's office as a liaison between the police department and the mayor. "South of 12th Street is where the majority of the problem is occurring."
The city has purchased an antenna to work as a relay system in the area to help the problem. Blaettler said that the antenna, which is being placed on the roof of Edison School on Eighth and West streets, should be installed by April.
"I don't believe that this will solve all of the problems," said Union City Mayor Brian Stack. "But it will improve them."
Adding to the problem
According to Blaettler, the communication in the downtown area was problematic when he joined the department 15 years ago.
"It is a funny situation," said Blaettler. "Some days it works fine and other days you have a bad day and can't communicate."
In hopes of alleviating the problem, the city changed its radio system about four years ago.
"The problem got worse instead of better," said State Delegate of Union City's Police Benevolent Association Local No. 8 Peter Phillips. "Now there are some spots that have no communication at all."
However, Blaettler added that the addition of the antenna is now the police department's number one priority. "If communication is slowed down or impossible, it becomes a dangerous situation for the police officers and the community," said Blaettler, claiming that the problem mostly affects the walkie-talkies but also hinders the base units in the police cars.
However, since the antenna was purchased more than a year ago, the city has allowed the bids for construction and electrical work to expire without being honored, as bids are only good for one year.
Now the city has to open the bidding process again to contractors. Bids are being accepted for the electrical work to install the antenna and for the construction to build the shed that the antenna is being placed in, and to reinforce the roof of Edison School so it can hold the antenna.
"The mayor has only been in office for two weeks," said Blaettler, explaining that the previous administration allowed for the bids to expire. "He was only on the fringes as deputy director."
"Now there is a paper trail that I can bring forth," said Phillips. "At least we know they are working on it." However, Stack has also made this project a top priority and applied to Hudson County's Improvement Authority for the $50,000 in funding needed to perform the project's electrical work.