RELEASE: Gottheimer Announces $1.3 Million Federal Investment Clawed Back from Washington for Sussex County First Responders

Next-Gen 9-1-1 Dispatch Technology for Newton, Andover, Sparta, and Hardyston

 

 Above: Gottheimer at Newton Police Department to announce new federal investments clawed back for first responders.

NEWTON, NJ — Today, January 17, 2023, U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) 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 Congressman Josh 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 today 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.

Video of the announcement can be found here.

 Below: Gottheimer at Newton Police Department to announce new federal investments clawed back for first responders.

 

Gottheimer’s remarks as prepared for delivery:

Thank you to 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 Chief of Police Steven Van Nieuwland, Hardyston Mayor Brian Kaminski, Hardyston Deputy Mayor Santo Verrilli, Hardyston Councilman Frank Cicerale, and Hardyston Police Chief Scott Lobban for welcoming us to Sussex County today.
 
And for your excellent leadership, and, as we are announcing today, for working so hard with me to help claw our federal tax dollars back to Sussex County to protect lives and save our taxpayers money.
 
Thank you to all of our firefighters, law enforcement, EMTs, and emergency dispatchers for all you do to keep us and Jersey safe. As I have said for many years now, we must always stand by those who stand by us. We must always get the backs of those who protect our communities, who make us safer, who make our neighborhoods — including those across Sussex County — the places we want to live and raise our families. 
 
Years ago, my first event as a Member of Congress was actually at a North Jersey firehouse. We remembered the fallen 9/11 heroes from all across our state. I listened intently that day to what the first responders told me they needed to protect themselves, and, more importantly, the community. I went to work without any delay, and, during my first days on the job, I joined the Congressional Fire Services Caucus and the Congressional Law Enforcement Caucus.
 
Since then, like you do for us, I’m proud to have fought tirelessly for legislation supporting our first responders, including 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.
 
We also 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 we got signed into law, to expand disability and death benefits for first responders. 
 
I successfully fought for bipartisan legislation to reauthorize the Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant Program and voted for the Thin Blue Line Act, because if someone murders a police officer in cold blood, they should get the death penalty. Period. End of story.
 
And last fall, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed my bipartisan, bicameral bill — the Invest to Protect Act — with sweeping bipartisan support to fund — not defund — law enforcement. Nearly every single Democrat and 153 Republicans all came together to vote the legislation out of the House, to ensure we’re getting the backs of our law enforcement. 
 
 
The Invest to Protect Act, which I introduced with my friend, former Sheriff and Republican Congressman John Rutherford, will make critical, targeted investments in small and midsize police departments — like many in Sussex County — with fewer than 125 sworn officers. 
 
We must give our law enforcement and first responders every tool to fight crime and keep our communities safe. We need to enforce the laws on the books, and we need to hire, recruit, and retain good officers.
 
The bottom line: you can’t cut or defund your way to safer communities and better police departments.
 
It’s about investing to protect.
 
Today, we are here to highlight another major investment to protect law enforcement, firefighters, EMTs, and our North Jersey community, as we claw more of our federal tax dollars from Washington back to Newton, Sparta, Hardyston, and Andover.
 
This new federal investment that we’re announcing today, and we fought for together, — more than $1.3 million dollars — will be used to purchase next-generation and interoperable 9-1-1 dispatch systems. The very technology needed to answer 9-1-1 calls and ensure that emergency response agencies can talk to callers and first responders quickly and easily. This new system will last for many years to come. This will not only help make life more affordable for the residents here, because it lifts that cost off our town budgets, and helps lower taxes. But, more importantly, this new federal investment will help keep more than 65,000 Sussex County residents and our brave first responders safe. And it keeps our tax dollars here, and away from the Moocher States. 
 
As all of our first responders know, it is critical that all emergency services are reliable, efficient, and swift in their communications and in their response. Lives depend on it. We remember sadly, back on 9/11, when many of our firefighters, police, and EMTs couldn’t communicate. 
 
Currently, many of the 9-1-1 communications systems here in Sussex County are in dire need of modernization. Additionally, the systems tend to have gaps in coverage because of the large geographical scope that our tireless local first responders cover every single day here. Think of the 15 to 18 mile distance between Andover and Hardyston – two fire and police departments that provide mutual aid to those communities.
 
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, state-of-the-art 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. In fact, this next-generation 9-1-1 technology will allow the emergency dispatchers to initiate text messaging with the caller. It will also allow callers to send videos to the dispatcher so that information can be relayed to first responders before arriving at a scene.
 
Our first responders put their lives on the line for us each and every day — rushing to the scene of a fire, accident, or threat of terror against our homeland. And they need to coordinate when they get to the scene. It all starts with our emergency dispatchers, who stand ready twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, to calmly and effectively speak with residents facing emergencies. It’s our dispatchers who help keep the calm at the scene of an emergency before firefighters, police, or EMTs even arrive. Without dispatchers gathering critical information, our first responders would have no idea where to go and would arrive at a scene with no information. This new $1.3 million-dollar federal investment will help give them everything they need to keep our families and first responders safe — and it will give our first responders the ability to communicate with each other out in the field.
 
Today’s announcement builds on the other investments I have fought for in Congress to help our first responders, including the AFG program, the COPS grant, the SAFER grant, the LESO program, and key initiatives to make sure our towns and police and fire departments have what they need to protect our families. 
 
Just this past Congress, I fought for investments to support local law enforcement, including for Byrne Justice Assistance Grants (JAG) and a 32 percent increase for COPS hiring grants.
 
Sussex County and the leaders of its towns — like the many we have here with us today — are always thinking about our first responders. 
 
Since I’ve taken office, working with my team, they’ve won grants for everything from Wantage’s air compressor, cascade system, and fill station for SCBAs, to Glenwood Pochuck Ambulance Corps’ five-ton military transport truck capable of making it through any storm, or multiple mules they’ve modified to hold backboards and medical gear. This equipment we’ve clawed back has proven extremely useful for reaching people on hiking trails where a full-sized vehicle may be unable to go.
 
Winning these grants takes hard work, both from the fire, police and EMS departments, the mayors and town councils. You’re competing with communities from Moocher States across America.
 
 
But 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.
 
I’m proud to say that since I was elected in 2016, we’re up 357 percent in terms of what we’ve clawed back to Northern New Jersey. That meant $750 back to every household in the Fifth District in 2021 alone. This is truly a win-win-win for the taxpayers – and we’ve only done it by applying for, and advocating for grants for everything from firetrucks to generators to desks.
 
At the same time, as ever, I’m committed to rooting out all wasteful government spending, to eliminate red tape, and to do everything possible to cut our taxes.
 
Thank you to everyone here for what you do to keep us all safe, for your public service, for always getting our backs, and for supporting clawing more of our tax dollars back to Jersey.
 
Thank you, Newton, Sparta, Hardyston, and Andover, for fighting for this investment, for standing by your emergency dispatchers, firefighters, EMTs, and law enforcement, and making sure they and our communities are safe.  
 
I know that working together, here, in the greatest country in the world, our best days will always be ahead of us.
 
Thank you and God bless you and God bless the United States of America.

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