The Eastern Riverside County Interoperable Communications authority. or “ERICA” will replace the old radio equipment officers have been using for decades.
The digital system gives these new police radios increased coverage and the ability to talk with officers from neighboring cities.
Palm Springs is the first city to make the switch. Police say it will help eliminate dead-zones around the city and help keep officers safe.
“We’re not going to have those areas where we have to question whether the radio transmission might function at that point and again it’s always good to have equipment you know is going to work and is going to be functional,” said Sgt. Melissa Desmarais with the Palm Springs Police Department.
Before “ERICA” if police from different agencies wanted talk they’d have to use their cell phones with “ERICA” they’ll all be on the same radio system.
The 18 million dollar project was approved 2 years ago but the idea is more than a decade in the making. Emergency crews saw a need after 9-11.
“It really showed in that one act that we needed to be more on the same page when we deal with disasters whether man-made or natural,” said Richard Banasiak, the projects interim executive director.
The system doesn’t just connect police to each other but also city city services and the fire department.
Riverside County Sheriffs Department is not included in “ERICA.” Banasiak says the county is creating it’s own separate digital communication system but it won’t prevent officers and deputies from talking because the systems are compatible.
Palm Springs will make the switch next week. Indio, Cathedral City, Desert Hot Springs and Beaumont should all be on board by the beginning of next year.
“Everybody’s going to be taught how to use the new system, it is a little bit different than our old system but it sounds like it’s going to be the great new tool in our arsenal,” said Desmarais.