Software streamlines E-911 dispatching

By Russ Corey
Times Daily

TUSCUMBIA — A new software system is allowing Colbert E-911 to better handle the requirements of dispatching multiple police departments in addition to fire and ambulance calls.

Colbert Emergency Management Agency Director Mike Melton said the computer-aided system the agency had been using was fine for dispatching ambulances for emergency medical service calls and volunteer fire departments.

But when the department took on dispatching duties for some local police departments, operators found the software was inadequate.

“It was not doing what we wanted to do,” Melton said of the old software.

With the old system, Melton said when a dispatcher received a request to run a background check on a suspect, they had to go to another terminal and check the National Crime Information System computer. If they wanted to keep the information in the system, they would have to add it manually, which took additional time.

The new software from Spillman Technologies allows dispatchers to check NCIC when dispatching for law enforcement personnel. He said the system is used by law enforcement agencies in Florence, Sheffield and Tuscaloosa County.

Melton referred to it as the “Cadillac” of computer-aided dispatching systems.

“We’re very excited about it,” he said.

Colbert E-911 dispatches for the Colbert County Sheriff’s Department and the Sheffield, Cherokee, Leighton and Littleville police departments.

Melton said the new software went live about a week ago, but dispatchers are still getting used to the system.

“We’re basically right in the middle of it,” he said of the transition.

One thing Melton likes about the system is an application that allows him to view the dispatch board on his phone. If communications go down, Melton said officers can be dispatched through laptop computers in their vehicles.

E-911 board member and Sheffield Public Safety Director Dewey King said the software is receiving good reviews.

“I’ve talked with several of our police officers and they’re well satisfied with it,” King said. “They have no complaints, and that’s what I want to hear.”

King said the Spillman system is “state of the art” and comes with an endless amount of capabilities.

“I think it’s going to be good for 911 as well,” King said.

The Sheffield City Council voted in 2014 to allow E-911 to dispatch its police officers. King said one of their dispatchers went to work for E-911 while a second became a secretary in the Police Department. The move allowed the Police Department to hire additional jailers.

“It was a good move for the city,” King said.

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