Nearly two years after approving plans for a $30 million DuPage Radio System, officials Tuesday announced its countywide launch.
The DuPage Emergency Dispatch Interoperable Radio System consists of 3,134 portable radios and 53 radio consoles in the county's nine 911 Public Safety Answering Points and allows for the melding of 60 first-responding units onto one system for the first time.
DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin said the need for such a system was never more glaring than during a Sept. 5, 2008, standoff at Wheaton Bank and Trust where a police officer was injured and 12 people were taken hostage for hours before the gunman shot himself.
"Unfortunately, the lack of interoperability between the DuPage County sheriff and Wheaton radio systems was an obstacle, as officers were forced to use hand signals as a way to communicate during the incident," Cronin said during Tuesday's announcement. "This radio system will allow our DuPage County sheriff, municipal police, fire agencies and all first responders to communicate with each other and with agencies located throughout the state."
The DuPage Radio System was operational and used during the 39th Ryder Cup at the Medinah Country Club in September.
All police departments that are members of the DuPage Emergency Telephone Safety Board that participated in the NATO conference events or activities in May also used the new portable radios to ensure seamless coverage.
The system first was used in January 2011 when 60 portable radios were rolled out for Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit to Chicago and Woodridge.
Hinsdale police Chief Bradley Bloom, whose department is using the new radio system, called it the biggest improvement for law enforcement in the past 30 years.
"Prior to having the implementation of this radio system, we had 32 disparate radio networks and officers couldn't always communicate across jurisdictional lines," Bloom said. "Today, not only can public safety communicate anywhere in the county, but we have also dramatically improved our ability to communicate during a multijurisdictional public safety response."