Drones, emergency software, and new pick-up for Westfield Police Department

Westfield City Council
Westfield City Council (Photo courtesy: The Westfield News)

WESTFIELD, Mass. (The Westfield News) – On Thursday, the City Council accepted a $15,000 gift to the police department for the purchase of a drone, authorized a transfer of $32,000 from reserve to allow the department to purchase communication and safety software, and another inter-department transfer of $44,102 to allow the police to purchase a Ford pickup truck to handle code enforcement for commercial vehicles.

The Drone

The drone will be used by the department for police enforcement during large events, such as Park Square concerts or sporting events. It could also be used by Public Works to survey large areas, such as the Granville Reservoir.

Emergency Software

Chief John Camerota presented the safety software request in the Finance Committee meeting earlier in the evening. Camerota called the COPSync 911 program a “real-time” communication and safety system for the police and the school district. The software puts an icon on desktops which can be punched if there is an emergency safety issue, and can also be programmed to go to cell phones.

Information technology manager Lenore J. Bernashe called it a “trigger mechanism,” that opens up communication back and forth with the police department, similar to a panic button. It may also be used by a teacher on a field trip.

She said the contract allows unlimited device usage, “so much per site, so much per responders.” She said it can also be used in City Hall.

“One of the chiefs that I served with for years is a consultant on it,” Chief Camerota said.

Finance Committee member Matthew T. VanHeynigen asked about other clients using the software. Camerota said the entire state of New Hampshire is using it, and locally, Southwick just picked it up.

Finance Committee member Dave Flaherty asked if the cost would be $32,000 annually. Bernashe said the second year cost would be $29,000. Flaherty then asked if the software could be developed internally, to which Bernashe responded that the city does not have in-house programming.

During the discussion on the City Council floor, VanHeynigen told the Council that the negotiated price was close to half of the original quote, according to city auditor Mary Daley. He said both he and Flaherty were thinking that the purchase should be approved for one year until the city has the ability to do it in-house.

“I think we could, along with neighboring towns, build it ourselves,” Flaherty said. Council President Brent B. Bean, II asked if there is a residential component, to which Flaherty responded that it is for government employees, and covers schools, administration, city hall, police dispatch and vehicles.

Ward 3 Councilor Andrew K. Surprise suggested that the software might also be used in a plan to regionalize emergency dispatch in the city. The City Council unanimously approved the transfer and purchase of the software.

New Ford Pick-up Truck

The Finance Committee also recommended to the City Council the purchase by the police department of a Ford pick-up truck. Chief Camerota told the committee the truck would replace an Expedition with 50,000 miles on it. He said the Health Department is interested in purchasing that vehicle.

Camerota explained that every tractor trailer that drives through the city will be pulled over by Officer Chip Kielbasa at some point for inspection. He said the pickup will allow Officer Kielbasa, who has been trained as an inspector by the state police, to carry the equipment needed to inspect and weigh the tractor-trailers.