No armored personnel carriers for West Orange streets

Published 7:28 pm Friday, February 23, 2018

By Larry Holt

The Orange Leader


WEST ORANGE — Through the US Department of Defense 1033 program, law enforcement agencies in other parts of the country have availed themselves of used mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles, or MRAPs, used in Iraq and Afghanistan to defend soldiers against improved explosive devices.   Hundreds of used military equipment of all kinds, such as a myriad of vehicles, weapons, night-vision, communication devices and more, may be requested by law enforcement through the application process.

West Orange Chief of Police Mike Steely, confirmed he is not looking at procuring military surplus equipment for anything more than digital communication devices.

Steely assured, “I am only looking for digital communications units that will bring us into compliance with the new communications mandate.”

Steely obtained city council approval at their regular session, on Tuesday evening, to seek a grant to aid the city in obtaining digital communications devices that would bring the City of West Orange into compliance with the new law enforcement telecommunications digital mandate.

The digital upgrade will enable law enforcement agencies to communicate with all other agencies by dialing in a stored digital frequency. To seamlessly communicate effectively and efficiently to all other parties in a given scenario using the outdated analog system was impossible.

Local law enforcement reports after Hurricane Harvey speak to analog mobile communication devices not functioning properly or not at all between first-responders and other stakeholders, making the process of organizing relief, search and rescue much more difficult than it will be moving forward.

The need for compliance and to fix the problem of lack of effective, timely communication drives Steely to shop available inventory for digital communications devices that meet the new communications standards, with little to no cost to the taxpayers of the City of West Orange.

When asked Steely responded, “Absolutely not”, no armored personnel carriers on the streets of West Orange, and no request for other available surplus such as night-vision scopes.

In other council business, Steely was given approval to align the West Orange Police Department crime reporting and information retrieval system with the new national standard called NIBRS, for National Incident-Based Reporting System.

He was also given approval to submit a grant application to the Department of Homeland Security to upgrade the agency’s body-worn camera and in-car video system.

Jessica Hill, Orange County Economic Development Coordinator, gave an economic development progress presentation to the city council along with showing a draft promotional video highlighting Orange County’s resources for growth.

“We are encouraged by our talks with Starbucks, Lowe’s, and Family Dollar Stores to move into the Orange County area,” Hill said. “We are also working with a current West Orange business looking to expand – helping them find a place they can expand into and stay within the city limits of West Orange.”

The city council thanked Hill for her dedication and the presentation she provided.

According to Mayor Roy McDonald, “You are doing a wonderful job. Thank you also for your efforts keeping the business in West Orange.”