Jeff Foerster of the McHenry Police Department has been a long-time customer of Radicom. We thought that he and the McHenry Police department would be a good fit for a Customer Spotlight so we asked him a few questions:
Tell us a little more about yourself. How does the McHenry Police Department serve your community?
I’ve worked for the McHenry Police Department for 42 years. I’ll actually be retiring in July…for the second time. I had retired before as a sergeant, but then came back in an IT role. When I was sergeant, I was also running the radio room and that is how I first came into contact with Radicom. They had already been a long-time vendor by that time.
We serve the community in a variety of ways – similar to many other police departments. We are charged with the duty to preserve life and property. Our department enforces the laws of the United States Constitution and the State of Illinois to keep our community safe. Our 911 system serves a much larger region that includes Harvard, Fox River Grove, Johnsburg, McHenry and more. Back in 2016, the State of Illinois passed a law that required the various counties to consolidate their systems based on the size of the County. McHenry County went from 6 PSAPs to 3. After the consolidation, we became the largest PSAP in the county.
Radicom was a big part of the success of consolidation for us. They guided us through it and put it into layman’s terms for us to understand. Without them we wouldn’t have been able to do it. They’ve been with us for so long and are so willing to help us out when we have a need. Cliff, Rick, Jim, everyone at Radicom is so willing to jump in and help. I can call any one of them with a question.
The McHenry Police Department has worked with Radicom for over 30 years. Why did you choose to work with Radicom?
As I mentioned before, they were already our vendor when I became involved, but I wouldn’t have changed things up at all. They have lots of expertise in lots of different areas. When I have questions, I can bounce them off of them. They are experts and they’re nice enough to coach us through things.
I’m a cop, we are all cops here so that is where our expertise is. For technical questions regarding our dispatch center or other communication needs, it is nice to have someone we can rely on. They also don’t have the high turnover that other vendors seem to have. We are always dealing with the same people, who are familiar with our systems and set up. Consistency is key. Since they put our radio equipment together for us, I can call them and they can just tell me “Yeah, I remember that, touch that red button in the box and that should do the trick.” Other vendors may send out a different technician each time and it’d take them 2 hours rather than 5-10 minutes to solve the issue.
What makes Radicom stand out from other communication suppliers?
When we went to bid for putting in some new consoles, Radicom’s big selling point was their proximity and their history of expertise and stability. They are a stable company. Other bids said they could guarantee to be there to fix a problem in 4 hours, Radicom was 1 hour or less. 4 hours is a long time to have your system down in life and death situations. We like working with someone who is local.
But they also go above and beyond the call of duty. I remember one time, there was a big ice storm, and our system went down. We had to get it back up. Jim was willing to try to drive through the ice storm to get here to fix it. Luckily, due to his familiarity, he was able to just talk me through it, but his willingness was very much appreciated.
Why is having confidence in your dispatch and communication systems provided by Radicom important to you?
It is vital because that is how we communicate with residents, the fire department and our police force. We need to trust that when we touch the button that it is going to work. Good and trustworthy communication is key in our line of work. Radicom has never steered us wrong.
Radicom is also good at knowing what is going to work and what is economical. They understand what we need and what fit is right. Other 911 systems utilize a Motorola console, we have a Zetron console. Motorola may have some extra features but is much more expensive. We didn’t see those extra features as worth the investment. Radicom was able to coach us through our options and set it up in an effective way.
They will tell us right up front and don’t try to hide anything or upsell. Radicom gives us equipment that we don’t necessarily have to update all of the time. Other equipment and software require you to update everything with every minor software or hardware update – that gets expensive and is impractical.
Any other comments or anything that you’d like to add?
Radicom services a lot of different systems and locations. They see how things work and are true experts. They have the knowledge which allows them to adapt systems, hardware, etc. to do what it needs to do at a more reasonable price.
It’s just nice to be dealing with a vendor who is receptive to your needs and you’re talking with the same people each time.