PATCHOGUE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – Suffolk County will be upgrading its emergency communications system.

As WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall reported, Suffolk is following in the steps of New York City and Nassau County, which have both recently made improvements to their systems.

Michael Postel, the communications systems director for the Suffolk County Police Department, said right now there is a disconnect between the fire department, EMS, the county and the police department during emergencies like Superstorm Sandy, blizzards and wildfires.

“The police department has been looking at upgrading the system over the course of the past couple of years so we can handle these emergencies as time goes forward,” Postel told Hall.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said the county’s communications system, which is 20 years old, needs to be modernized, 1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera reported.

“If they’re going to be out there on the front lines, doing what they do to help protect our community, then it’s our obligation to make sure they have the tools to do it,” Bellone said.

The $22 million upgraded system will allow all the agencies to easily communicate within Suffolk as well as with nearby agencies.

“We’ll replace outdated equipment that makes it more difficult for us to interact with other agencies that have updated equipment,” Bellone said.

Some of the information will be encrypted as it’s transmitted across agencies.

“The encryption will work by – basically now, you can turn on a scanner and you can listen to whoever you want to listen to. Certain things that we need to have secure, they will be encrypted across the radio systems so you will not be able to handle it,” said Postel. “We will be utilizing the national standard of encryption, which is AES.”

The new system will be in operation by 2016.

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