Maine County Dispatch Sysem Leaps Into Computer Age

By Eric Russell
Bangor Daily News (Maine)

Copyright 2007 Bangor Daily News

ELLSWORTH, Maine — After years of discussion and hand-wringing, Hancock County commissioners approved this week the purchase of a computer-aided dispatch system that officials say will improve communication among various public safety agencies.

Commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to purchase the system, which includes several accessories and installation, for $133,995, acting County Clerk Cynthia DePrenger said Wednesday.

“The price was a quote we received more than two years ago and they have honored that quote, so it's a fantastic deal,” DePrenger said of Spillman Technologies Inc., a nationwide leader in public safety software.

Installation begins Monday.

“This CAD really allows us to do more with less,” said Linda Dunno, regional communications director for Hancock County. “It will probably take two or three months to get it up and running, but we're excited.”

Among other things, the CAD system will create a database so that everything related to public safety would be accessible in one place.

The installation of the system also will create a link between the Hancock County offices and the city of Ellsworth offices across the street.

That link allowed county commissioners to strike a temporary deal this week with the city to combine their dispatch efforts during the overnight hours.

As it stands, the Hancock County Sheriffs Office and the Ellsworth Police Department each employ only one dispatcher from midnight to 8 a.m. Since Jan. 1, all local dispatchers now handle emergency medical calls as well.

The agreement, which first came up last August, essentially will create backup services for both sides.

“They will be able to log in to our system and track calls on their own,” said Dunno, who oversees six full-time dispatchers. “Right now it's just to back up in case of emergency, but if we take this far enough, our staffs could be interchangeable.”

Not everyone thinks that is the best idea.

Ellsworth Police Chief John Deleo expressed concern in August that combining services wouldn't result in equal shares. Deleo didn't return a call Wednesday for comment.

“Of course, there is always the concern of keeping local control local, but regionalization is the big word out there these days,” Dunno said.

Similar offers to combine dispatch services have been offered by Hancock County to Bucksport, Mount Desert and Bar Harbor, but each town has declined.

A joint committee has been created to explore a long-term solution regarding the combination of dispatch services.