USU police join other valley agencies in use of public safety software

By Amy Macavinta | The Herald Journal

Thirty years ago, a Utah State University student identified a need that he had the ability to address, leading to the creation of an innovative data collection system that allows police departments to collect and share information in one central location.

The Spillman Database is now in use by every law enforcement agency in Cache Valley, including Preston and Franklin, after Utah State University Police converted to its use a few weeks ago.

Capt. Kent Harris said he is glad to have the system available to university police.

“Being a university, we all deal with the same people, for the most part,” he said. “The data-sharing properties just cut down the delay in getting information.”

The information found in the database includes alert codes on the people police come into contact with. So, Logan Police Chief Gary Jensen explained, if a person is known to be aggressive and violent, has a habit of carrying a dangerous weapon or has mental health issues, that information is noted in the database and is then available to any officer in the valley before his arrival “so he is not walking in blind” and dispatchers are able to send additional officers from the onset if the situation requires.

“It is a fantastic safety net,” Jensen said.

Another function this system provides is the ability for an officer to see what other interactions a person has had with police — a resource that has sometimes linked a suspect or person of interest to other unsolved cases.

Jensen cited a recent incident at a residence bordering USU where Logan police were staking out an individual with intent to arrest him. What they didn’t know, Jensen said, was that USU police had already arrested that person earlier in the day and they could have easily made contact with him at the jail.

“Spillman provides a great ability to communicate between agencies — it is almost unprecedented,” Jensen said.

The program also tracks 911 calls, maps emergency situations and can trace dispatched units in real time.

USU alumnus Richard Spillman, who developed the software, became aware of the need for such programming in the late 1970s while he was a working on a senior project for a computer science course. He formed Spillman Technologies Inc. and worked with the Cache County Sheriff’s Office to release the first version of his public safety software in 1983. The company that started in Logan with three employees has since moved to Salt Lake City and employs more than 300, according to its website.

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