NEWTON, NJ (Sussex County) — U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) Tuesday joined with Sussex County first responders and local leaders to announce a new $1.3 million federal investment clawed back from Washington to Newton, Sparta, Hardyston, and Andover to purchase updated and interoperable first response communications systems.
This is the technology needed to answer 9-1-1 calls and ensure that emergency response agencies can talk to callers and first responders quickly and easily — helping keep more than 65,000 Sussex County residents and first responders safe.
Newton, Sparta, Hardyston, and Andover have shared emergency dispatch services and provide mutual aid to their communities.
Many of the 9-1-1 communications systems in Sussex County are in dire need of modernization and tend to have gaps in coverage due to the large geographical scope local first responders must cover. For example, it can be a 15 to 18 mile distance between Andover and Hardyston.
New $1.3 million federal investment clawed back from Washington to Sussex County first responders includes:
- Next-generation 9-1-1 technology to allow emergency dispatchers to initiate text messaging with callers.
- Next-generation 9-1-1 technology to allow callers to send videos to the dispatcher so that information can be relayed to first responders before arriving at a scene. It also helps better pinpoint location.
- The new federal investment clawed back from Washington to Sussex County first responders will also help make life more affordable for residents because it lifts the cost of necessary upgrades off town budgets, and helps lower local property taxes.
“Communication and speed are key during an emergency, and our technological systems need to be updated to serve Sussex County families. Without a fully functioning, next-generation central system to respond to 9-1-1 calls, our families’ lives would be put at risk. This new bipartisan investment is critical to boosting the response capabilities of our public safety agencies in Newton, Sparta, Hardyston, and Andover,” said Gottheimer (NJ-5), a member of the Congressional Law Enforcement Caucus and the Congressional Fire Services Caucus. “What’s great about these investments in our community, is that it helps protect us and it helps our communities save real local and property tax dollars, because it’s items that they need but don’t have to pay for out of their local budgets, or bond for. That directly saves taxpayers money.”
“On behalf of Chief Danielson, Chief Lobban, Chief McCarrick, and myself, I want to thank Congressman Gottheimer and his staff for collaborating on this grant which provides $1.3 million to purchase next-generation 9-1-1 dispatch software and console equipment for our departments. This equipment will provide redundancy and interoperability with other 9-1-1 dispatch agencies in the event of a large-scale emergency. Lastly, due to this funding the financial burden of the 9-1-1 upgrades will have minimal impact on our municipalities,” said Newton Chief of Police Steven Van Nieuwland.
Last Congress, Gottheimer’s bipartisan, bicameral Invest to Protect Act — to make critical, targeted investments in local law enforcement — passed the House with overwhelming bipartisan support. 153 Republicans and 207 Democrats voted for Gottheimer’s bill. The Invest to Protect Act will ensure that local departments have what they need to recruit and retain the finest officers, to provide necessary training, and to invest in mental health resources for officers.
Gottheimer’s work to support North Jersey’s first responders and their families also includes the following:
- Original cosponsor of the bipartisan Firefighter Cancer Registry Act to collect firefighter health and occupational information to determine cancer incidence and trends among firefighters, the Michael Lecik Military Firefighters Protection Act to provide veteran firefighters with the fair compensation, health care, and retirement benefits they’ve earned, and the Never Forget the Heroes Act — signed into law to permanently authorize the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.
- Fought for the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act to provide firefighters, police officers, and EMS the ability to form and join a labor union, and the Protecting America’s First Responders Act, which was signed into law, to expand disability and death benefits for first responders.
- Cosponsored bipartisan legislation that passed Congress and was signed into law to reauthorize the Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant Program.
- Gottheimer voted for the Thin Blue Line Act.
- Since 2016, Gottheimer has helped claw back millions to the Fifth District in Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG) for life-saving firefighting equipment, in Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grants, Law Enforcement Support Office (LESO) 1033 grants, Byrne Justice Assistance Grants (JAG), and other resources to support our communities and local law enforcement and first responders.
- Gottheimer helped claw a $10 million federal investment back from Washington to New Jersey firefighters through the American Rescue Plan Firefighter Grant Program to provide investments for local and regional fire departments in New Jersey to purchase equipment including oxygen packs, PPE, protective clothing and turnout gear, and cleaning and sanitizing equipment.
Gottheimer was joined at the Newton Police Department by Andover Chief of Police Eric Danielson, Andover Township Administration Patti Bussow, Andover CFO Toni Grisaffe, Andover Committeewoman Janis McGovern, Newton Mayor Michelle Teets, Newton Councilman Matt Dickson, Newton Councilwoman Sandra Diglio, Newton Chief of Police Steven Van Nieuwland, Hardyston Mayor Brian Kaminski, Hardyston Deputy Mayor Santo Verrilli, Hardyston Councilman Frank Cicerale, Hardyston Police Chief Scott Lobban, Sparta Police Chief McCarrick, local first responders, firefighters, police officers, medics, and EMTs.