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Kent County Police and Fire Launch $25M Upgrade in Police Dispatch System

June 24th, 2021 12:30 pm

Contact: Sheriff Michelle LaJoye-Young
PH: (616) 890-6904
EM: Michelle.young@kentcountymi.gov

Upgrades, funded by 911 surcharge, are online and expect to increase strength, reliability, clarity of law enforcement radio transmissions countywide

Kent County, Mich. (June 24, 2021) – Kent County area public safety agencies have upgraded the 911 radio dispatch system used to transmit public safety information to law enforcement agencies and personnel countywide. The $25 million upgrades in radio equipment and technology are funded by the 911 surcharge and the Kent County Dispatch Authority. The improvements went online in Grand Rapids in December and in other Kent County agencies in February and March.

The upgrades have improved the strength, reliability and clarity of communications for all public safety entities and jurisdictions across Kent County. Public safety agencies have also upgraded web-based Incident Status Monitors to provide easy access for anyone wanting to know where public safety resources are being deployed.

Both 911 centers have implemented status monitors, Kent County services 28 fire departments and nine police agencies and their status monitor can be found at (URL). The Grand Rapids 911 Center services both the Grand Rapids Police and Fire and their status monitor are listed below. Together these centers service all public safety departments within Kent County.

Kent County:   https://arcg.is/0408iT
Grand Rapids: 

“This new system delivers on our promise to Kent County voters when they resoundingly approved the 911 surcharge in November 2016,” said Kent County Sheriff Michelle LaJoye-Young. “These investments in the latest dispatch technology will help our dispatchers and law enforcement officers better serve residents throughout our community.”

With the installation of the new digital 700/800 MHz Motorola P25 radio system, the dispatch centers will encrypt police radio traffic on the network. This will include radio dispatches for the Kent County Sheriff’s Office and for all local police departments throughout the county. This upgrade will bring Kent County law enforcement agencies in line with federal regulations. Specifically, the Federal Bureau of Investigation Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Security Policy requires that, when technologically possible, criminal justice information transmitted, stored or shared outside of a physically secure location be encrypted.

The primary purpose of encryption of CJIS transmissions is to protect personal privacy of individuals served by police. These transmissions often contain highly sensitive and personal information such as mental health and medical history, personally identifiable information – including that of juveniles – information about domestic situations and sexual assaults, telephone numbers, residential addresses and private building access codes. When unencrypted information is picked up on police scanners, it can compromise the privacy rights and security of people involved and of their neighbors.

Police scanners will not work on encrypted channels. To meet the needs of members of the public interested in where and how police services are being used in the county, the Kent County Sheriff’s Office and Grand Rapids Police Department dispatch centers have upgraded their online Incident Status Monitors. These web-based platforms provide information on countywide emergency dispatches. The Grand Rapids incident status monitor will provide calls for service within the City of Grand Rapids and the Kent County Sheriff’s Office Incident Status Monitor provides information for all other agencies within the county. They will list the general category, general location and current status of incidents. Certain types of highly personal information will be filtered out before posting.

Recordings of all CJIS dispatches remain subject to Freedom of Information Act requests and will continue to be released within FOIA guidelines.

Questions can be directed to Kent County Sheriff Michelle LaJoye-Young.