It’s no doubt laudable that the Riverside-Brookfield High School board wants to make sure all T’s are crossed and all I’s are dotted before agreeing to spend what could amount to about $60,000.
The school district has been frustrated by a lack of answers to questions about the cost of a proposal to increase the number of antennas inside the high school to improve Riverside police radio communication.
Riverside police for the past few years expressed concerns about the ability of its radios to operate fully inside the school. There are areas where there are “dead spots” from which police radio communications can’t reach the police department’s dispatch center.
It’s a real concern for police, who say they don’t want to encounter an emergency situation where communication between officers and the dispatch center is interrupted. It could mean compromising the safety of officers, students and staff.
Earlier this year Riverside police brought in the communications firm that services its equipment to walk the high school and get a sense of the scope of the problem. The solution, according to that company, is an upgrade that will cost about $125,000, involving the installation of antennas that will help radio signals travel through the building.
But the high school isn’t convinced and board members are wary of the cost. So, Riverside’s police chief is seeking a federal grant to see if he can get some help paying for the antenna upgrade. Finding out the results of that grant application will take until the end of the year. It’s unclear, once the go-ahead is given to do the work, how long it will take to complete. A couple more months probably.
OK, here’s the thing. The cat is out of the bag on this problem and it needs to get resolved. Can you imagine the fallout if there was an emergency in which interrupted radio communication resulted in a tragedy? It’s now public that radio reliability inside RBHS is a known problem, and heels are dragging.
We have to say that while Riverside police are surely the ones who have and will continue to respond to police calls at the high school, we are unsure why the police are tasked with figuring this out on their own.
Surely the high school has a critical stake in solving this problem, which impacts the safety of its students and staff. High school officials say they want to partner with police in this initiative, but they don’t appear to be very enthusiastic about it.
The high school board’s president says the district’s budget is “razor thin” and that they have a duty to make sure the money is being spent appropriately. In the meantime, RBHS apparently has the money to continue pressing a lawsuit against the village of Brookfield over a zoning matter that has more to do with convenience than public safety.
We understand these matters are not related, but it’s confounding that the high school, when confronted with an issue involving student safety seems to be content with letting someone else shoulder the burden of solving it.