It will cost the city more than $24,000 to upgrade emergency communications equipment so it is functional inside . City Council members approve the deal in a vote of 6-2 at their meeting Monday. Aldermen James Brookman, fifth ward, and Mark Walsten, sixth ward, voted against the plan.
Equipment inside Rivers Casino was installed as a network for internal security staff members to use. It wasn’t until the casino opened and was fully operational that the fire and police departments realized the radios didn’t work inside the facility, according to a city memorandum Nov. 2.
The total cost of the upgrade is $48,835 and Midwest Gaming will pay half.
Funds for the city’s half of the upgrade will come from the general fund, with gaming revenues eventually covering the cost. Jason Slowinski, acting city manager, said they anticipate receiving gaming revenues as early as July 2012.
Walsten said he didn’t think the city should have to pay for the upgrade.
“This deal kinda stinks,” Walsten said. “A company making millions of dollars is asking Des Plaines residents to foot half the bill for security equipment.”
Currently, the police department’s radios cannot receive emergency communications in the casino, and the fire department’s radios cannot receive or transmit, said Mike Kozak, deputy police chief. The new installations will ensure the departments’ equipment works.
The memorandum stated the police and fire departments’ ability to effectively communicate through its current public safety frequencies was “currently non-existent.”
Until now there have not been any serious incidents where the lack of radio communications has been a big issue, Kozak told council members.
“A serious example would be if there were a big fight,” Kozak said. “All officers called to the casino go in with their partner so an officer is never alone in the facility”
Officials are working on an addition to city code that would require all future buildings to have police and fire-compatible communications devices.