Plans are in progress to upgrade the communications center at New Milford Police Department.

Put on hold since initial research in 2008, Mayor Pat Murphy and Police Chief Shawn Boyne are now taking action to make the upgrade a reality.

"This year we want to do the dispatch station upgrade, adding a third console and moving the station to the two rooms (at the police department) where records are kept now," the mayor said.

Northeast Communication Consultants, of Naugatuck, will design a progressive phase plan for upgrading the entire communication system.

It will include all new equipment in the dispatch center, new support equipment in the police station basement, and a tower upgrade.

The cost of the entire project is still to be determined. No grants are available, the mayor said. Funding will be a "one- time capital expense" and most likely be through a bond issue, she added.

In January 2008, Oliver Associates conducted a study to upgrade the 9-1-1 communication center. They recommended a $2 million solution.

Consultants from Oliver told the Town Council that year that New Milford's dispatch center equipment needed replacing and that the space was inadequate.

They said there was insufficient radio coverage for fire, police and EMS personnel throughout the town and that channels in use were inefficiently utilized.

Budget constraints in subsequent years put the project on hold.

"We're taking what is applicable from the old (Oliver) study," Ms. Murphy said. "But we're not going with recommendations like communication suits."

Police Lt. William Scribner, has served as Dispatch Center Upgrade Research Coordinator for the project.

"We need to get more room for the radios and to upgrade the system," Lt. Scribner said Tuesday. "A lot of the system's components go back 25 years."

Moving the dispatch station to the records room was the most cost effective option, he said.

It will also allow for the three consoles installation and system upgrades while the present dispatch station stays in operation, he added.

The overall changes will bring the communication center to "narrow band compliance," Lt. Scribner explained, a federal requirement to be met by 2013.

"It's necessary," Mayor Murphy said. "The consultants have been asked to get the coverage we want, allow us to get a handle on cost, and to develop a time line for establishing effective radio coverage into the future."

Monday the Town Council established a 10 member Temporary Emergency Communications Upgrade Committee, including the mayor, the chiefs for the three fire departments and the Ambulance Corps.

Police Chief Boyne will serve as a committee consultant. The committee will gather information and make recommendations to the council on the upgrade.