SPRINGFIELD – Officials from Governor Rod R. Blagojevich’s administration today announced that the State will complete the distribution of more than 300 radios to 70 Illinois colleges and universities as part of his initiative to strengthen safety for students, faculty, staff and visitors at Illinois institutions of higher education. The STARCOM 21 radios will help campus security officials communicate with other response agencies during emergencies on or near their campuses. Representatives from more than 20 colleges are meeting at the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) in Springfield today to pick up their radios and receive training on how to operate them. Forty-six colleges have already received their STARCOM radios and completed hands-on training during a similar session on August 28 at the University of Illinois-Chicago.
“The Virginia Tech tragedy showed us how critical communications are to enhance campus security. These radios will provide campus security with a critical communications link to law enforcement and other first responders whenever an emergency arises,” Gov. Blagojevich said. “The Illinois Campus Security Task Force will continue their work to ensure the safety of our college students, faculty and visitors.”
On April 29, Gov. Blagojevich announced three college campus security initiatives, including $330,000 in grants from the Illinois Terrorism Task Force (ITTF) that was used to purchase 171 STARCOM21 radios. Schaumburg-based Motorola, Inc., developer of the network, agreed to contribute an additional 132 radios, valued at $294,000. Altogether, the State was able to purchase more than 300 radios for distribution to college campuses. The radios will provide colleges with the capability to access the interoperable communications network used by other responders during emergencies.
“STARCOM21 is a key component of our interoperable communications plan in Illinois, and we are very pleased that so many colleges and universities are receiving these radios, which will dramatically improve their emergency communications capabilities,” said Andrew Velasquez III, director of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, who made the announcement on behalf of the Governor at the SEOC headquarters in Springfield.
“This STARCOM21 distribution to college campuses not only will provide secure interoperable communications on campuses, but because we already had distributed these radios to more than 1,800 public safety agencies, it will also link them with their local law enforcement, fire, emergency management and public health responders,” said Col. Jill Morgenthaler, deputy chief of staff for public safety.
STARCOM21 is a statewide communications system deployed in a public-private partnership between the State of Illinois and Motorola. This network allows emergency management, law enforcement, fire and public health agencies to talk to each other from nearly anywhere within the state. STARCOM21 is one of several statewide interoperable networks developed by Motorola for first responders in the United States.
The ITTF made STARCOM21 radios available to every public safety agency throughout the state, including law enforcement, fire, emergency management and public health departments. A total of $10.7 million has been dedicated to the procurement of STARCOM21 radios for state and local public safety agencies in Illinois.
The Illinois Campus Law Enforcement Administrators worked with the ITTF on allocation of the radios.
In addition to the STARCOM radios, the Governor’s other college security initiatives include:
- Creation of an Illinois Campus Security Task Force with members representing community colleges, public and private colleges and universities, proprietary institutions, the ITTF, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA), the Illinois State Police (ISP), the Illinois Law Enforcement Alarm System (ILEAS), and the Illinois Campus Law Enforcement Administrators. The Governor directed the task force to identify training needs and implement programs that will help campus security officials prepare for, respond to and recover from security incidents on their campuses.
- Appointing the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE), the Illinois Community College Board (ICCB) and the Illinois Campus Law Enforcement Administrators to the ITTF. The participation of these groups in the ITTF will also allow other public safety bodies to gain additional insight into the security issues and incidence response requirements unique to college campuses. The ITTF currently has more than 70 member organizations representing state and local agencies, public safety organizations, municipalities with populations over 100,000 and the business community.