VPD’s dispatch system brings bad guys down faster

Sheyanne N Romero, Visalia Times-Delta

(Photo: Sheyanne Romero)

Last year, Visalia police, fire and animal control responded to 167,573 calls for service. Those calls were fielded, tracked and recorded through the department’s new digital dispatch software system — Spillman.

The switch from the department’s 30-year-old dispatch and recording keeping system was five years in the making and $2 million.

“It’s once in a lifetime that an agency would transfer from one program to another,” said Veronica McDermott, police support services manager. “This program is state of the art.”

McDermott has been with the department for more than 30 years and remembers the switch from Spillman’s processor in 1984.

“Back then we thought we were big time,” she said.

On Wednesday, the department celebrated its one-year anniversary with Spillman — a computer-aided dispatch software designed for multi-agency dispatching.

Senior Communications Operator Monica Dukes works the call center for Visalia police, fire and medical calls. Dispatch receives about 800 calls a day. (Photo: Eric Woomer)

McDermott and Police Systems Analyst Robin Meyst spearheaded the implementation of the new system. With the help of police and fire, the two built the system from the ground up, as each law enforcement agency is different.

“An incredible amount of work has gone into this,” Sgt. Jon Pree said. “They worked very hard on this to make sure it would work.”

After three months of intensive training, Spillman went live on July 26, 2016.

“The project was on time and on a budget,” Meyst said.

She compares the new system and its importance to the department to a smartphone.

“Your entire life is on your phone,” she said.

Agencies like police, fire and animal control can now easily share call information and keep all parties informed and up-to-date with the latest call information.

The program provides one integrated system for all records.

This allows information to be immediately shared between dispatchers and responding agencies. Additionally, any information added by dispatchers can be immediately used by officers to create records and reports.

The system has helped officers track and arrest suspects.

“Spillman was able to locate a call for service where this person was contacted,” Sgt. Kevin Kroeze said. “It allowed us to know a location where he frequented.”

The systems searching capabilities lead to the arrest.

“With the old system, I don’t think we’d have the capabilities to locate that person,” Kroeze said. “This is much more effective.”

Meyst, who has been with the department for 18 years, has seen technology evolve tremendously over the years.

“I embrace change,” she said. “You have to when you work in a field with technology.”

Citizens can now report crimes online with ease, Meyst said. Residents wanting to report a crime can visit www.visalia.city/depts/police/report_crime.asp

Once a report has been made, an email confirmation along with a case number will be sent to the person, Meyst said.

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