East Chicago police switch to Verizon, look to imiprove gun range

2012-10-27T21:32:00Z 2012-10-27T21:35:32Z East Chicago police switch to Verizon, look to imiprove gun rangeSteve Zabroski Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
October 27, 2012 9:32 pm  • 

EAST CHICAGO | The Police Department is switching to Verizon for wireless Internet, and got permission to begin investigating repairs to its aging shooting range.

Problems with previous carrier Sprint often left patrol cars without crucial connections to county and regional computer systems, Sgt. George Almedina, police communications supervisor, told the Board of Public Works recently.

Both AT&T and Verizon performed well in testing, Almedina said, but were pretty expensive until Verizon dropped its price to match that previously paid to Sprint.

The agreement approved by the works board provides for 50 so-called "air cards," which connect laptop computers in 42 squad cars and the James Knight Public Safety Facility to the Internet, for $1,499 per month.

The plan allows for unlimited data transfers, Almedina said, and the department is not locked into a contract so a switch to a different carrier can be made at any time.

An assessment of the department's 10-year-old shooting range was also approved by the works board, which is "in desperate need of repair," said Lt. Frank Maldonado.

City officers are required to qualify with their duty weapons three times a year at the range, Maldonado said, and federal and other officials also use the facility deep inside the Knight building.

"It's operable right now, but not working the way it should be," Maldonado said.

An agreement with Suwanee, Ga.-based Meggitt Training Systems was approved for a comprehensive survey of the gun range for $1,595.

The department is already pursuing grants and other resources to pay for repairs or upgrades recommended by Meggitt, Maldonado said.

Munster clinical psychologist Jill Miller will also be back for another year to look after officers' mental hygiene, a role in which she has served since 2007.

Miller is to be on call to the department 24 hours a day, under terms of the one-year contract, and will be paid $100 per hour for her services to a maximum amount of $8,000 a year.

"Fortunately, or unfortunately, we use her quite a bit," Maldonado said.

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