By CALEB SLINKARD
A grant from the U.S. Department of Justice will allow Commerce Police Department officers to communicate more clearly and consistently with each other, an upgrade that will improve officer safety, according to Police Chief Kerry Crews.
“It’s a huge officer safety issue if we can’t talk back to dispatch or they can’t talk to us,” he said.
CPD was recently awarded an Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant of $78,277 from the Department of Justice and the Office of the Governor.
Commerce police will purchase P-25 digital radios for each squad car and hand-held radios for each officers, which will work inside buildings and in other locations in Commerce with poor reception.
“The new radios are a huge need for us,” Crews said. “The radio system we have now is not very old, but the whole system is analog. Our coverage is not very good in town, there are some ‘dead’ spots.”
According to the Bureau of Justice website, Edward R. Byrne was a member of the New York City Police Department. On Feb. 26, 1988, Officer Byrne was on detail protecting a witness who had agreed to testify in court against local drug dealers.
Byrne was in his patrol car outside the witness’ home around 3:30 a.m. when two armed gunmen crept up to his car from both sides. One of the men knocked on the passenger-side window to distract Byrne just as a second perpetrator ran up to the driver’s side window and opened fire. He was rushed to the hospital, where he died of his wounds. He was only 22 years old.
In honor of Police Officer Byrne, the U.S. Department of Justice initiated the assistance grant. The department’s Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) administers this program, which allows states and local governments to support a broad range of activities to prevent and control crime and to improve the justice system.