New Canaan Police Chief Edward Nadriczny appealed to the Town Council at the Sept. 19 meeting for funding to improve the force's portable radio reception by installing a new receiver in the northwest part of town.

There have been two fatal accidents and a burglary in parts of town that have spotty or intermittent radio reception over the past two years, according to Nadriczny.

"On several critical incidents that we have investigated in the northwest quadrant of town, our radio signal has not been as reliable as we would like," the chief said.

The cost estimate for the project ranges from $50,000 to upwards of $100,000, depending on the site chosen, the height of the antenna, and other variables. The department said that it has found about $36,000 of funding in its own budget which it would put toward the expenditure.

Although the Town Council decided to postpone all funding requests at the Sept. 19 meeting, it took a straw poll that showed unanimous support for the project.

More Information

Fact box

The Police Department would like to find a high-elevation spot somewhere in the northwest part of town on which it can put an antenna. The higher the antenna, the better the radio reception will be, Nadriczny said.

Once the infrastructure is there, the Fire Department and emergency medical services could then add their own receivers at a nominal cost.

Assistant Fire Chief Jack Hennessey said in an interview that the Police and Fire departments, along with EMS, are looking for a site for the receiver, but that there is no timetable for the project.

The main problem lies in the portable radios used when officers leave their cars; the radios in the police vehicles are more powerful and don't have reception problems. It can be difficult at times for the officers to communicate with headquarters and with each other on the ground, Nadriczny said.

"The operative thing here is that our portable radio transmission has not been as reliable as we'd like to see," Nadriczny said.

Hennessey said that the Fire Department has the same problem.

"Fire, police and EMS all have similar problem, which is that it's difficult to reach dispatch in the northwest part of town due to topography. It's easy to do with vehicles' radios, but hard with hand-helds.

First Selectman Rob Mallozzi said in an interview that he was delighted that the Police DDepartment was going forward with this project. He said that when he was asked by the Board of Finance what capital non-recurring projects he felt were important, he listed this one as one of three priorities.

"It is a major, major issue that needs to be resolved," he said. "Also, when we make a decision and fund this, it is funded for all (police, fire and EMS)."

The funding process could take between four and six weeks, with the installation taking another several weeks if the appropriation passes the necessary town bodies. At the Town Council meeting, the department said that while it had had occasional problems with reception in the past, it had not seen a string of incidents with suboptimal radio reception, as it has in the past two years.

twoods@bcnnew.com; 203-972-4413; @Woods_NCNews