HARRISBURG – A measure sponsored by Sen. Bob Mensch (R-24) urging counties, local police and state authorities to prepare for rollout of a new statewide safety radio system was unanimously adopted by the Senate this week.
Senate Resolution 237 urges counties and local officials to work with the Pennsylvania State Police and the Office of Public Safety Radio to explore and execute shared services arrangements to enable operation of the new Pennsylvania Statewide Radio Network (P-25 PA-STARNet).
“PA-STARNet is the commonwealth’s statewide wireless voice and data network for public safety and emergency response communications. It will provide interoperability and enables first responders to communicate without boundaries,” said Mensch.
“This statewide emergency radio communications system has been in the making for decades, and is years behind schedule. It is absolutely critical for public safety that all of the parties are prepared to work together when the system is deployed.”
The statewide rollout of the system began in northwestern Pennsylvania early last year and is set to be completed in 2021.
Last session, the Senate adopted Mensch’s measure urging the governor and the executive branch to develop a plan to implement a solution for the statewide emergency radio communications system.
Prior to the passage of this resolution, Pennsylvania taxpayers had invested more than $750 million into PA-STARNet, yet it remained unreliable, often preventing agents in the field from doing their job safely and effectively.
In 2014, it was proven to be a liability in the search for Eric Frein, who ambushed and murdered one state trooper and gravely injured another.
Since the adoption of Senate Resolution 325, Pennsylvania has switched to a new system vendor and the state police have made great progress towards implementing the system.
“It is important that we notify counties, local law enforcement and public safety and emergency services providers of the benefits of this new system and urge them to work with the PSP to ensure interoperability and cost-savings,” said Mensch.
“If we do not take this important step of the passage of this resolution, it is possible that some counties will move ahead with deployment of their own, non-integrated system, which will ultimately be an increased cost to taxpayers.”