The Allentown Police Department is being awarded a $53,000 U.S Department of Justice grant to support the purchase of technology to assist in crisis negotiations and portable speed control devices. The city was informed of its successful application by U.S. Senator Bob Casey and Congresswoman Susan Wild.
The funds will be used to purchase a state-of-the-art Rescue Phone for use by trained professional crisis negotiators so they can communicate with individuals in crises from a distant location and in a controlled environment. Remaining funds will be used to enhance the department’s speed monitoring technology and purchase two License Plate Reader systems to track activity by suspected criminals in hot spot crime areas.
According to APD Chief Charles Roca, “the department has responded to more than forty crises’ situations in the last year and a half concerning individuals who are either suicidal or barricaded. Our current communications device that allows us to deploy communications from a safe distance was purchased in 2007 and doesn’t meet 2021 expectations for communication in those circumstances. The Rescue Phone can establish communications during these tense situations and will be used for training monthly.”
The speed monitoring equipment will enable the department to simultaneously deploy four speed signs throughout the city and keep them running 24 hours per day. Data is collected via a cloud-based system and used for reference. “This data can be analyzed by the traffic division supervisor and enforcement assigned accordingly,” said Roca. Currently these units use batteries that must be re-charged daily.
The Rescue Phone comes at an estimated cost of nearly $33,000. The two license plate readers cost $14,000. Speed sign batteries and solar panel kits cover the balance of the $53,000 grant.