Spillman & SLOPD Keep Mardi Gras Under Control

LOGAN, Utah – April 4, 2005 – San Luis Obispo Police Department (SLOPD), in the wake of a riotous 2004 Mardi Gras celebration, used its Spillman software to help keep the peace during the 2005 Mardi Gras festivities.

The city of San Luis Obispo, Calif. has hosted a Mardi Gras celebration, that included parades and other family-oriented celebrations, for about 25 years. In the last ten years, however, the celebration has turned into an out-of-control event with rioting and severe alcohol abuse.

We have been using Spillman software for about seven years,” said SLOPD System Administrator Kathe Bishop. If we had known how outrageous the celebration was going to be last year, we would have set up our Spillman software to help keep it under control. It is a good thing we were able to use it in 2005.”

The peak of Mardi Gras celebrations take place in the five-day weekend beginning the Friday before Fat Tuesday, and ending on Fat Tuesday (February 3-8 in 2005). In 2004 an estimated 35,000 people were drawn to the downtown San Luis Obispo area for the festivities.
Last year's event included a full-blown riot with over 5,000 people throwing bricks, rocks and beer bottles at police, requiring over 300 law enforcement officers to bring it under control. This year, the SLOPD arranged to have more than 250 officers patrolling every night, and brought in a total of 400 additional officers and staff to assist with the celebration.

After a very violent celebration in 2004, we decided to take action toward ending the celebration in 2005,” said SLOPD Captain Dan Blanke. We preplanned extra help from several surrounding law enforcement agencies, and set up a special command center using our Spillman software.”

SLOPD created an off-site command center” that housed a special communications department for the event. That communications department included dispatchers from the Critical Response Unit, Cal Poly University, SLOPD, Sheriff's Department Transport, and Highway Patrol. Using Spillman's computer-aided dispatch (CAD), the SLOPD divided the city into event” and non-event” segments. Event dispatchers were at the command center, while non-event dispatchers were in the usual dispatch office. By using the Spillman customizable system, the agency was able to have call-takers immediately route calls to the command center dispatchers that were event-related, and route calls to the regular dispatchers for non-event emergencies.

The software customization enabled our agency to handle an enormous influx of calls very efficiently and respond to each emergency quickly, because we were able to segment the city according to the boundaries of the Mardi Gras celebration,” said Kerri Rosenblum, SLOPD Communications and Records Manager.

The use of Spillman software was not limited to CAD, however. Spillman's mobile software was used in the field by both police and fire to help monitor the activities in different areas of the city, keeping the command center and all mobile units informed of any problems.
We were also able to use Spillman's extensive database to facilitate administrative citations for alcohol-related violations. We issued citations with varying degrees of fines, based on the number of alcohol-related incidents a person had in the past 12 months. The Spillman Name Involvements and Citation tables provided us with that information so we could properly asses the fines,” said Rosenblum.

The result of these enhanced security measures was a peaceful celebration in 2005, free of rioting and with very little violent activity. The SLOPD plans to use the Spillman system again for the 2006 celebration, to help ensure the safety of the San Luis Obispo residents and Mardi Gras visitors.

The flexibility and expanse of the Spillman software allowed us to rearrange our traditional operations for Mardi Gras, while still maintaining the same level of data integrity, search capabilities and information access as we have had in almost eight years that we have used Spillman for our regular law enforcement operations,” said Bishop.

Spillman Technologies provides a full range of software solutions for public safety agencies, including Computer-Aided Dispatch, Records Management, Mobile Communications, Corrections Management, Fire/EMS Management, and Resource Management. The software is installed at more than 525 agencies nationwide.