Macomb expands emergency dispatching, links with Warren

Mike Martindale
The Detroit News

Mount Clemens — Macomb County and Warren city officials announced Thursday a joint $9.6 million plan to enhance their respective radio system for police, fire and emergency medical services.

A major factor in the proposal, which needs approval from county and city officials, is that the Macomb County Sheriff’s radio system would couple with the Warren public safety radio system for backup services should either be affected by man-made or natural disaster.

Improvements to the 800 MHz radio system housed at the county’s COMTEC center on Groesbeck Highway will ensure public safety for the entire county for years to come, Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wickersham said Thursday.

The county dispatches public safety services to about 400,000 people, or about half the county’s population. That includes 100,000 in Sterling Heights and other contracted communities, and 100,000 in Clinton Township.

“This isn’t necessarily something the public will visibly see, but will enjoy the benefits of should something knock out radio communications,” Wickersham said. “By partnering with the city of Warren, there will not be a physical need for either of us to build a backup system, just enhance what is already in place.”

Talks have been ongoing for about three months, Wickersham said.

“This comes at a time that Warren was looking to upgrade their system,” Wickersham said. “We not only wanted a backup, but realized we needed better service in the northern end of the county.”

Five radio towers will be put up in the northern portion of Macomb County and equipment will be added to the city and county systems.

Wickersham noted a community such as Macomb Township has seen its population grow over the past 20 years from about 20,000 to 85,000 today.

“Our residents and businesses require this,” he said.

Under the proposal, Warren will be responsible for $2.4 million in expenses while the county will bear $7.2 million in technological enhancements, he said.

The county’s portion will come from the county budget and surplus funds, County Executive Mark Hackel said. Hackel, who started a career in law enforcement as a 911 dispatcher in Macomb County, expects the plan will get final approval from all sides next month.

“We have been working towards this for some time and putting it all in place — the towers, hardware, wiring and new equipment — is expected to take about a year,” Hackel said. “We will have a radio system in place with more extensive coverage and radio operability both inside and outside buildings than anywhere else in the state.”

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