Can you hear me? Until new $2 million tower, the answer for police was sometimes “no”

Published 12:10 am Wednesday, May 9, 2018

MT. AIRY — Dead zones in emergency communications were a known concern for the Garyville region on St. John the Baptist Parish’s East Bank, part of subpar networking that extended into Garmercy along the Interstate 10 corridor.

St. John’s elected leaders say the answer is a 260-feet, three-point structure constructed on the grounds of Pin Oak Terminals along River Road in Mt. Airy.

According to St. John Sheriff’s Office public relations officer Angel Thompson, construction of the new tower began in early 2017 after the Sheriff’s Office, parish government officials and Pin Oak representatives entered into an agreement to build the $2 million structure.

With previous radio coverage in the parish, if an officer in the Garyville area needs assistance, a unit anywhere else in the parish may never hear the call for help.

“When this was brought to my attention, I decided to embark on a mission to improve our communications in the Reserve and Garyville areas to enhance radio communications,” Tregre said in a release announcing the communications tower.

St. John Parish President Natalie Robottom, front center, St. James Sheriff Willy Martin Jr., Port of South Louisiana representative Linda Prudhomme, Pin Oak Terminals official Danny Guidry, and St. John Sheriff Mike Tregre lead the ribbon cutting for the parish’s new communciation tower on the Pin Oak Terminals grounds in Mt. Airy. Among those with these officials are: SJSO Chief Steve Guidry, from left, St. James Chief Sid Berthelot, St. John Fire Services Chief of Operations Cain Dufrene, Pin Oak official Tom Malik, St. John Chief Administrative Officer Laverne Toombs, Lt. Conrad Baker and St. John Interim Director of Emergency Preparedness Travis Perrilloux.

Tregre said he met with Pin Oak officials to discuss building the tower on the terminal grounds, leading to a ribbon cutting and celebration last month.

Officials said the new tower allows for clear radio communications throughout St. John for police, local fire departments and parish government.

Tregre said the new tower, by Motorola, allows the Sheriff’s Office to simulcast with their other tower site — the ATT tower near the St. Charles-St. John parish line — in LaPlace to eliminate the “dead zones” in St. John while enhancing the St. James Parish radio system, especially for the Gramercy/I-10 area.

“Now our two communications towers are connected to the St. James, Ascension and East Baton Rouge communications towers, enhancing our overall radio communications in the River parishes,” Tregre said.

“I want to thank Pin Oak Terminals for being there for us and helping us get this project accomplished. This new tower helps tremendously in keeping our first responders safe, and making St. John safer.”