Police upgrade dispatch system

By Chauna Aguilar

The City Council has approved plans to purchase a computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system for the Okeechobee City Police Department (OCPD).

The purchase is in the city's 2008-09 fiscal year budget.

The current police dispatch system is more than 20 years old. The CAD system will be purchased from Spillman Technologies, Inc. for $221,925, which includes financing charges due to the city spreading the cost out over five years to lessen the budget constraints.

The cost for the actual software is $194,838 which includes seven years of support. The council budgeted $44,386 per year to fund this expenditure.

Training is also included within the contract. Spillman personnel train each officer rather than training a few officers to train everyone else.

Chief Denny Davis got information from two police departments, West Melbourne Police Department and Tavares Police Department regarding the system.

Through their research local police have only gotten positive feedback about the system. According to a memorandum presented to the council, Sergeant Victoria Williams visited the West Melbourne Police Department where she was able to see the system in action.

One of their sergeants generated a uniform crime report (UCR) for the calendar year up to the actual date in two minutes. The same UCR compilation would take the OCPD records clerk weeks to compile by hand using the current system.

The system can consolidate all available information for a subject just by entering a name. By searching for that name, the system retrieves all crime reports, traffic accidents, traffic warnings and citations, criminal history, photograph, and any field interview notes for that subject.

While the current system that OCPD is purchasing does not include a mobile package, it is possible to add it in the future if warranted. The mobile package makes all this information available to the officer in his/her vehicle.

This program can regionalize calls by type and location so that resources can be put to better use in patrolling areas prone to issues. This system also can help pay for itself by creating cost effective programs to track officer's mileage and gas usage which saved the West Melbourne Police Department $3,000 in one year of gas overcharges.

Detective John Zeigler visited Tavares Police Department where they demonstrated the ease that the Spillman system interfaces with the E-911 system and also with the NCIC/FCIC allowing for faster dissemination of information.

Officers at the Tavares Police Department who had experience with the older systems that frequently crashed and were more manually kept, all recommended the new Spillman program and have had no problems with the program since they went online with it in May of 2007.

A lieutenant demonstrated to Detective Zeigler the reports and graphs that are readily created within a short period of time.

This system will greatly influence the operations of the OCPD by expediting the dispatching, reporting and planning processes.

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