Victoria police have high hopes for radio upgrades

Monopole being installed in Esquimalt as first phase of upgrades gets underway

In certain areas of Esquimalt, members of the Victoria Police Department know their radio will be useless.

Precautions have been put in place where officers radio just before they go into these certain areas, explained acting Insp. Jason Laidman with the police Esquimalt division. But sometimes new areas are found that work today and don’t tomorrow.

It’s a problem Laidman calla frustrating at times, but he can’t say how many areas are cut off from radio communication in Esquimalt. It has, however, had an impact on officer’s work.

“If we’re dealing with someone who is a suspect in something who could potentially turn violent then it’s an officer safety issue if we can’t call for help,” said Laidman, adding the issue is one of his top concerns.       “The other side is public safety where somebody else needs help and we still can’t call for help.”

With the installation of a monopole in Esquimalt during the next few weeks, Laidman is hoping the issue will no longer be a priority on his list of concerns.

Capital Regional Emergency Service Telecommunications (CREST), which provides radio communications for about 50 emergency response agencies in the region, including fire, police and ambulance, is moving ahead with the planned replacement of its 13-year-old regional radio system.

According to CREST General Manager Gordon Horth, the technology will be based on digital radio technology known as Project 25, which provides enhanced audio clarity and improved coverage. Upgrades to the technology include the installation of new transmitters/receivers, conversion of existing radio sites and the purchase of new radios for first responders.

A total of 20 new transmission sites are being installed across the region, along with a new 88-foot monopole in Esquimalt’s Highrock Park — the highest point of land in the township. A new site will also be added in Victoria’s James Bay for a total of six new transmission sites on top of tall buildings in the urban core.

“Esquimalt was our highest priority. Officers have challenging communication at times…this new pole covers off that coverage area,” said Horth, adding coverage at the moment comes primarily from signals in downtown Victoria and the West Shore.

“Having a facility in Esquimalt just lessens that distance and provides a stronger footprint.”

In 2014, the CREST board of directors approved a $24.5 million investment in a five-year upgrade to public safety, with the infrastructure component accounting for roughly half of the project. The pole in Esquimalt is part of the first phase.

Laidman has high hopes officers will see an  improvement when it comes to radio communication, noting officers in the past have patrolled in pairs because they might not be able to call for backup. Although the situation has improved, Laidman said nobody can predict how good the upgrades will actually be.

“Our members have been waiting a long time for a good radio system,” he said. “This was one of the top concerns. I sure hope it isn’t anymore.”

Construction of the base for the monopole is slated to take place during several weeks in October and November, with the park being closed for one day during the pole installation. Other parks in the region with various transmission installations include Mount Tolmie and Mount Doug.

 

editor@vicnews.com

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

B.C.’s public health restrictions on non-essential travel are reinforced by orders effective April 23, 2021 to stay within your own regional health authority except for essential travel such as work and medical appointmens. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 non-essential travel ban takes effect, $575 fines approved

Checks on highways, ferries between Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island, Interior

Nic Hume and his fellow paramedic stopped to rescue the victim of an Oak Bay hit-and-run – a duck – at the end of their shift Thursday morning. (Nic Hume/Facebook)
Paramedics rescue unusual patient after Oak Bay hit-and-run

A female duck was rescued while a male one was deceased on scene

Craigdarroch Care Home has put in place enhanced control measures after Island Health declared a COVID-19 outbreak. (Google Earth)
Island Health declares outbreak at second Victoria long-term care home

Two staff members tested positive for COVID-19 at Craigdarroch Care Home

Tina Starkey with her seven-month-old puppy Sugar on the E&N Trail in Esquimalt. Starkey now carries a small personal alarm device, her thumb on the button. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
Encounters leave Vic West woman concerned for her safety

The 50-year-old wants self defence training, says she’s not alone

An early morning fire along Cameron Street has left two cats dead and two tenants homeless. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
Early morning fire guts Victoria house, leaves 2 cats dead

Victoria Fire Department called out shortly before 2 a.m.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and United States President Joe Biden smile as they say farewell following a virtual joint statement in Ottawa, Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau pledges to cut emissions by 40% to 45% by 2030, short of U.S. goal

Trudeau announced target during a virtual climate summit convened by U.S. President Joe Biden

As the snow in Manning Park melts, searchers are able to get a little farther each day. Photo submitted
Family resumes search for son missing in B.C.’s Manning park since October

‘This is our child, and we don’t give up on our children,’ said mother of Jordan, Josie Naterer

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Canada buys 65M Pfizer booster shots for protection against COVID-19 variants

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the deal with Pfizer includes options to add 30 million doses in both 2022 and 2023, and an option for 60 million doses in 2024

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: Have rising prices caused you to give up hope of buying a home?

Do you have a spare 50 grand or so kicking around (have… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of April 20

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

A plan flew over the Lower Mainland with a sign expressing some Canucks fans’ discontent with the team’s general manager. (Niqhil Velji - Twitter Screenshot)
#FireBenning movement gets off the ground in Metro Vancouver

Canucks fans raise enough money to fly banner over Metro Vancouver asking for team GM to be canned

The freed osprey keeps a wary eye on its rescuers after being deposited on its nest. (Photo credit: Greg Hiltz)
Hydro crew in Ashcroft gets osprey rescue call-out they won’t soon forget

Bird was tangled in baling wire hanging from a hydro pole, necessitating a tricky rescue

Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth speaks to media at the Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday February 5, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to announce travel restrictions today to limit COVID-19 spread

Mike Farnworth is expected to give details of what the government views as essential travel

A downed power line has sparked a brush fire along Yellow Point Road south of Nanaimo. (Cole Schisler/Black Press)
Vancouver Islanders warned of fire risk caused by dry conditions

As dry spell poised to end, officials warn of risks involved with backyard burning

Most Read