Routt Commissioners to approve police technology upgrade

Police, sheriff cars to get computers connected to dispatchers

By Tom Ross

Steamboat Springs — The Routt County Board of Commissioners is expected Tuesday to sign a $985,153 contract that promises to bring significant changes to the way law enforcement officers with the Routt County Sheriff’s Department and Steamboat Springs Police Department protect public safety through a computer-aided dispatch system.

The contract with Spillman Technologies, of Salt Lake City, will pay for communications software, computer servers and extensive training that will empower police and dispatchers to use mapping technology and share information in real time over a 3G cellular network.

“This is not just whiz-bang technology,” Commissioner Diane Mitsch Bush said Monday. “This is key health safety communication infrastructure. It will make law enforcement safer, more efficient and allow (officers and dispatchers) to work seamlessly.”

The cost of the project is being covered by a $1.55 million federal grant through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The balance of the grant will be used for computer hardware not covered in the Spillman contract.

Commissioner Doug Monger said the antiquated system used by Routt County Communications already was due to be replaced.

The new system will let officers to do things like print citations in their patrol cars and check for outstanding warrants on traffic stops themselves without having to wait for dispatchers to make the check. They’ll patrol with mobile laptops in their squad cars.

The information they gather will be fed directly into law enforcement databases, and the benefits will extend to jail records. The system will let officers take digital photographs at crime and emergency scenes and upload them to a communications system that will let prosecutors access those images while preparing their cases.

Computer mapping will not only tell emergency responders exactly where they are in the field, but also allow law enforcement officers to look back in time and geographically analyze the incidences of types of law enforcement calls in different locations in the city and county.

Monger praised the level of cooperation involved in getting the project to this point. City Information Systems Manager Mike Schmidt and county Director of Information Systems Terry Barber have worked closely on the new system as have a variety of officials from the Sheriff’s Office and Police Department. And two layers of oversight committees were formed to vet Spillman Technologies. Local officials went as far as visiting and observing four Colorado counties and municipalities already sharing Spillman software and hardware systems.

Their work is not done. The new system won’t be fully operational until May 2012.