Gulf Shores, Orange Beach police to share software, records and server

BY JOHN MULLEN

ORANGE BEACH, Ala. – There’s a line separating Orange Beach and Gulf Shores, but that’s a line criminals aren’t likely to care about.

Police in both cities will upgrade to the same software system in 2014 that will help officials more easily cross that line with shared information.

“Bad guys on the island don’t pay attention to that imaginary line and this is one way we can share that data about them and paying attention to those lines from a law enforcement perspective, too,” Gulf Shores Police Chief Edward Delmore said.

Orange Beach Chief Billy Wilkins said the sharing of information will help both departments on a daily basis.

“We’re right next door,” Wilkins said. “Our problems are their problems, obviously. People go back and forth so much of what we do every day is intertwined with each other. We’ll be sharing much of the same information that is now separated completely.”

Delmore came to talk about the new software at a recent Orange Beach City Council meeting. His department did extensive research on the new software offered by Spillman Technologies which specializes in public safety software.

“That’s the software that we did a tremendous amount of due diligence on finding that it was the right product for us in the police department,” Delmore said. “Also finding in doing due diligence that other departments, including Chief (Billy) Wilkins former department, Tuscaloosa, operates with that platform and have had a tremendous experience.”

Delmore sent several members of his department to Utah to watch the software in action.

“One of the main things that we were concerned was whether or not it would work well for an Alabama police department,” he said. “We found out that to be the case.

“In addition to that we sent people out to Salt Lake City and the surrounding area from all the different disciplines in our agency. Corrections, records, dispatch and patrol and embedded our people with actual users of that software. They all came back with glowing reports, not only about the software but also about the support.”

Orange Beach is getting a break of sorts by agreeing to come on to the new system at the same time as Gulf Shores. It’ll cost Orange Beach about $250,000, but that’s a savings of about $60,000, Wilkins said, because the install in January 2014 will coincide with the one in Gulf Shores.

“We got a pretty good break on the purchase price in going in with Gulf Shores purchasing our license at the same time they are,” Wilkins said. “We’re actually piggybacking their contract with the shared agreement. We’ll be doing everything at the same time as them. All the training, debugging, everything will be done at the same time.”

Gulf Shores’ price will be much higher because they are providing the server the two agencies will store data on. Gulf Shores will spend almost $425,000 for computers for patrol cars, the software and the server.

Delmore said his city is happy to return a favor.

“Several years ago you were very forward thinking in Orange Beach and you elected to go on board with 700 megahertz radio system,” Delmore said. “Graciously, a couple of years ago, you allowed us to also use that infrastructure and also go on board with that 700 megahertz radio system. As a result both departments, where we previously couldn’t talk to each other, can.”

His city will provide this upgrade in communications between the two departments.

“This software system, us both going on board, will have that same effect,” Delmore said. “When we purchased software we also purchased a big enough server so that at no additional expense to you, you could come along and we’d have plenty of space for both departments to share that very vital information.”

Not all information will be available to both departments, Wilkins said. Files on cases headed to the grand jury, felony cases, juvenile cases and personnel records will have limited access.

“We’ll be sharing much of the same information that is now separated completely,” Wilkins said. “Such as vehicle files, name files, records files, things that might as well be completely walls apart now would be just one common database. So that when we search for something we’ll also be searching what they have.”

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