Police Communication Term Paper

Pages: 6 (1955 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 12  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Criminal Justice

¶ … Budget Proposal on the Cost of Installing Cellular/Radio Towers in Parts of Western Massachusetts towns such as Ware, Pelham, Shutesbury

Specific Budget Proposal on the Cost of Installing Cellular/Radio Towers in Parts of Western Massachusetts

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The use of cellular communications devices in the United States has become virtually ubiquitous and Americans have embraced this technology in a major way; an unfortunate concomitant of this explosive growth in cellular communications, though, has been the need for frequently unsightly communications towers that can be as tall as 250 feet. While many companies have sought environmentally friendly alternatives by disguising these structures, the need for them remains solidly in place. There were more than 57,000 radio transmission sites throughout the country, with an estimated 110,000 antennae already in place by the end of 2002 (Tuesley 887). This proliferation of communications towers is a fundamental function of the explosive demand for wireless service and new technologies. For instance, in his essay, "Cellular tower proliferation in the United States," Thomas a. Wikle (2002) reports that cellular telephone towers have been placed in a growing number of cities, suburbs, and towns of America. This author estimates that more than 128,000 cellular antennae would be installed across the United States by the end of 2005 (Wikle 44). Clearly, cellular companies (also known as cell or wireless service providers) are under an increasing amount of pressure to extend their networks' geographical boundaries. Forecasts in the late 1990s suggested that 100,000 cellular telephone towers would be in place by 2010; in fact, though, by the end of 2001 that total had already been exceeded (Wikle 44).

Term Paper on Police Communication Assignment

In spite of growing public insistence on new or expanded service, the growth of cellular networks remains a source of controversy in cities and towns (Wikle 44). Local objections to such installations have tended to concentrate on the adverse visual impacts and perceived health risks that are typically associated with such towers (some of these towers can be more than 250 feet tall). In an attempt to control the unrelenting proliferation of cellular communications towers, a number of communities across the country have initiated zoning ordinances or other actions, such as temporary tower-building moratoriums (Wikle 44; Gozzi 240).

Notwithstanding local government efforts to deny permits for the construction of towers, cellular providers have managed to successfully overturn local restrictions through litigation, citing the Telecommunications Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-104, 110 Stat. 56 [1996]); this legislation prohibits local communities from imposing outright bans on wireless equipment (Wikle 45). In those instances where local government decisions have been overturned, grass roots movements and other NIMBY (not in my backyard) groups have pressured policymakers at all levels in an effort to prevent new towers or remove existing ones (Wikle 45; Tuesley 887).

Increasing opposition to towers has prompted unique methods for reducing aesthetic objections to tower construction, such as disguising cellular equipment placed on buildings or camouflaging towers as more acceptable structures (Wikle 45). According to Gozzi (2000), "Rather than fight costly legal battles, cellular companies have used ingenuity to disguise their towers as other, quite normal, pieces of the skyline. Some stealth towers are disguised as trees, but since they must reach a certain height, these trees too often stand out as obvious fakes" (240). While church steeples have been found to be good candidates for tower installations, other communications towers are concealed in large flagpoles, farm silos and other tall structures to blend in with the rural scenery (Gozzi 240). This proliferation of cellular communication capability, though, has not been entirely uniform in distribution (Schneiderman 139). In 2002, an estimated 128 million Americans used cellular telephones; this figure represents an astonishing increase of more than 23 million over the previous year (Wikle 44). Amidst this relentless growth in cellular telephone communications, though, some regions of the country remain uncovered by such technology and law enforcement authorities in these areas are at a distinct disadvantage compared to their cellular telephone-enabled counterparts.

Purpose of Study. The purpose of this study is to identify the feasibility of and the costs associated with the installation of cellular communications towers in western Massachusetts that would provide adequate cellular radio coverage for the subject communities of Ware, Pelham, and Shutesbury; also investigated will be funding sources, the impact on the environment and surrounding populations, and what studies and permits will be required to be obtained before construction can commence. Perhaps everyone in the United States is familiar by now with the oft-heard "Can you hear me now?" slogan of a popular cellular telephone service provider, and this slogan is reflective of the restrictive nature of the technology today. There are strict geographic boundaries beyond which cellular technology will not reach without assistance from transmission towers, and these spatial boundaries of the defined "service area" are characterized by poor or non-existent reception. "Outside their service area," Wikle says, "callers must access the cellular networks of other providers, with additional charges for 'roaming.' Beyond urban areas and major highways is a communications wilderness still uncolonized by providers and largely without service" (emphasis added) (45). While there are still communications wildernesses in the United States, law enforcement authorities do not have the luxury of ignoring them. Studies have shown time and again that timely and effective communications are an integral part of law enforcement and are an essential requirement for officer safety, which leads to the importance of the study, discussed further below.

Importance of Study. According to Tuelsey (1999), "One of the most promising developments in communications technology is the ability of the mobile phone to act as a substitute to a traditional landline" (887); however, the usefulness and importance of wireless communications to law enforcement authorities today extends far beyond the mere ability to communicate by voice (Hazlett 155). Today, the integration of cellular capabilities with other technologies allows wireless telephones to send e-mail and faxes, to page others, and to access the Internet (Wikle 45).

Furthermore, by linking cellular telephones to global positioning system receivers, these communications devices can be used to obtain highway directions or to assist law enforcements authorities in finding a stolen vehicle or apprehending a fugitive. This enhanced communications capacity will also provide emergency backup for law enforcement officers faced with untenable situations, and will enable the rapid dispatch of emergency medical vehicles if injuries are incurred (pers. obs.).

Scope of Study. Although the scope of the study will extend to include federal regulatory requirements, the primary focus of this study will be on the State of Massachusetts and the townships of Ware, Pelham, and Shutesbury in particular.

Rationale of Study. As can be seen from the map at Appendix a, the Massachusetts coastline is about 1,500 miles in length; however, the cross-country distances are only 190 miles from east to west and 110 miles from north to south (Clark 23). Cellular telephone coverage for the western region of the state, then, could be easily accomplished with a minimum of cellular communications tower installations.

Budgetary Considerations. While it may be difficult to place a dollar value on the improved communications provided by cellular communications to law enforcement authorities, by any other measure, the installation of such facilities is not cheap. Although the capital costs for cellular communications are lower than for wired, landlines are already in place and new tower construction can be very expensive. For example, new tower construction was valued at $1.6 billion in 1996 and was expected to reach $2.3 billion in 2003 (Tuesley 887). The costs associated with the installation of a new cellular communications tower, though, can be offset in part or completely by having them sited on public lands and leasing the facilities to private carriers (Czerniawski 15; Tuesley 887). The justifications for siting cellular communications towers on public lands include reduced costs to consumers through increased competition among providers, increased availability of wireless services, and potential state income through land-use arrangements with service providers (Tuesley 887).

Niche players, too, are becoming increasingly involved in rural areas such as western Massachusetts and these companies could be solicited to bring their services to this region: "[a] new group of... wireless firms are challenging the 'baby Bells' by offering small and medium-sized businesses, even entire rural townships, permanent wireless connections that include voice, data and high-speed Internet" (Tuesley 887). According to a report by Daniel Gutierrez (2001), cellular communications towers were installed at a remote military facility in New York, and the installation and service of the towers was at no cost to the government; in fact, Gutierrez reports that the military base will actually receive $16,200 per year in "In Kind Services" from the private vendor for allowing the towers to be installed on government property. Likewise, WEL Associates (2005) reports they have negotiated attractive conditions for various municipalities across the country wherein cellular towers were situated on public lands at no cost and with arrangements being provided for payments to the municipalities for such land use ("Cellular Tower Installations through Public/Private Partnerships" 2). The costs of feasibility… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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