The Barnstable County Police Radio System was established in 1933 by Sheriff Lauchlan Crocker as an experiment to determine the feasibility of public safety radio in Barnstable County. This “experimental system” was operated by one of the correctional officers at the House of Correction/County Jail.

In April of 1936, the purchase of a radio system that operated on 33.90 MHz in the then “state of the art” FM spectrum proved that radio communications could reduce response times by making it possible to dispatch motor patrols efficiently. Our existence was formalized in 1938 when the Massachusetts legislature enacted Chapter 100, Acts of 1938 that authorized the County to operate a “police broadcasting radio system”.

The communications were being conducted in a “shack” that was located on the hill over looking Barnstable Harbor next to the County Jail. To this day, the communications center is still affectionately known as “The Shack” to many of those in public safety.


Today, the Communications Division is under the supervision of Peter Thomas, Director of Communications. A staff of 23 consists of a Director, 20 full-time telecommunicators and 5 part-time telecommunicators. All members of the staff are certified in CPR, First Responder, APCO (Association of Public Safety Communication Officials) basic telecommunicator and APCO EMD (Emergency Medical Dispatch).

On July 11, 2007, the Communications Center moved its operation to the new Otis Fire Station on the MMR. In cooperation with the military, state and federal authorities, a MOU was established for BCSO to co-share space at this new state-of-the-art facility.

The Communications Center is outfitted with all the latest technology available in public safety communications. The Center has 8 multi-functional dispatch positions complete with ergonomically designed consoles. In addition, 6 computer screens are in place at each position to support radio communications, 911, CAD (computer aided dispatch) and mapping. Also in place are large video monitors to support all areas of operations during large scale or multi-jurisdictional events.

The recent replacement of all 911 equipment by the Commonwealth gives our center the ability to locate the multiple emergency wireless calls we receive. This technology greatly enhances our ability to locate callers quickly and initiate a quick and efficient emergency response to those in need.

From the early days of "The Shack", services provided by the Communications Division have grown enormously over the years. Our center is widely recognized as one of the largest and most efficient regional communications centers in New England. Currently, our center serves as a regional 911 PSAP (Public Safety Answering Point) for the towns of Falmouth, Mashpee, Otis AFB, Harwich, Chatham, Brewster, Orleans and Wellfleet. This PSAP also serves as the back-up for several communities as well as Dukes County (Martha's Vineyard).








Fire Dispatch services are provided for the Barnstable and West Barnstable Fire Districts, as well as the towns of Bourne, Mashpee, Orleans, Wellfleet, Brewster, Dennis and Otis Fire Departments. The Barnstable County Fire Mutual Aid System is maintained and dispatched from "The Shack" as well. In cooperation with the Barnstable County Fire Chiefs, all runs cards, up to the 5 th alarm, for all 19 fire departments are maintained and updated by the telecommunicator staff. When additional resources are needed, whether it is a multiple alarm fire, MCI (Mass Casualty Incident), search and rescue or large forest fires, all assignments are dispatched by BSO.

Our CAD (computer aided dispatch) System, brings the latest, state-of-the-art computer system into the operation. This system is one of the most advanced CAD systems in the Northeast, and brings a tremendous amount of information and mapping resources to the fingertips of the telecommunicators.

The CMED (Centralized Medical Emergency Dispatch) system, which was established in 1973, was the first in the Commonwealth. Communications are provided for field providers to area hospitals by a system which consists of a UHF radio system, 6 radio towers and phone lines. Over 42,000 calls a year are processed for approximately 60 ambulances and 4 area hospitals. The CMED center also coordinates all Med-flights for the area as well as working with the USCG for medi-vacs by helicopter or boat.

There are many other dispatch functions and services provided by the Communications Division. The SE Massachusetts District 1 HazMat team, local gas and electric utility companies, Massachusetts Environmental Police, MEMA (Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency) just to mention a few.

With the exception of a few, all communications are conducted on an 800MHz trunking radio system. The trunking system, owned by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, is maintained by the State Police with the local assistance of BCSO radio technicians. In conjunction with the trunking system, the telecommunicators provide services with a state-of-the-art Motorola Gold Elite radio console.


For more information about emergency communications contact:

       Peter Thomas, Chief Deputy of Emergency Communications

       (508) 563-4210

NOTE: We do not accept any emails from webmail services such as yahoo, gmail, or hotmail.  If you need to send a message to a member of the department your email address must be cleared first. Call the IT helpdesk at 508-563-4352 to have it cleared. We apologize for any inconvenience.


Sheriff James M. Cummings
Barnstable County Sheriff's Office
6000 Sheriff's Place, Bourne, MA 02532
Phone: 508-563-4300 | Fax: 508-563-4574