The Belleville Police Department’s new communications center will not only provide officers with upgraded equipment to help them continue to keep residents safe and secure, but it will help keep the officers safe, too.
The center where police, fire and general 911 emergency calls are routed has been moved into a closed space inside police headquarters, taking it from a common area inside the building to a designated place where COVID-19 protocols such as social distancing are easier to follow.
The officers who man the communications center every minute of every day will be separated by Plexiglas partitions and a state-of-the-art filtration system will keep the air clean and safe.
Township officials were on hand earlier this week for a ceremony to dedicate the Chief Mark Minichini Communication Center.
Chief Minichini was presented with a plaque by Captain Nick Breiner and Deputy Chief Gerard Corbo that will hang in the center, honoring his years of service to the township.
“The plaque was a pleasant surprise,” Chief Minichini said. “I am humbled and appreciative that they decided to name the center after me. It came out beautiful and it will serve as a model for other agencies.”
The communications center is the nerve center of the police department. Officers check security cameras in the schools and other locations around the Township, monitor the safety of the department’s officers as they perform their daily duties and, of course, respond to calls for immediate help.
Belleville received some 60,000 calls in 2020 in which officers had to dispatch police, fire, or emergency personnel.
Breiner, who served as project manager, said Minichini had a vision of a state-of-the-art communications center from the time he took over as chief in 2016.
The project, however, became more pressing when COVID-19 surged across the state and the department needed to find a better way to keep the officers safe inside police HQ.
The center went from pencil sketches to up and running in about four months, Breiner noted.
Township Manager Anthony Iacono said the center cost about $250,000 to build and was paid for with federal CARES Act funds, rather than local taxpayers.
“The Township is proud to help give Chief Minichini and his staff the equipment they need to help keep the residents safe,” Mayor Michael Melham said. “And it is a well-deserved honor for our police chief.”