City, county weigh benefits of integrated dispatch, records system

By Carl Lewis | The Ada News

Pontotoc County commissioners and city of Ada officials, alongside county firefighters and Mercy EMS personnel, met with representatives from Spillman Technologies Inc. Monday for a firsthand look at the company’s integrated, computer-aided dispatch and record keeping platform.

Spillman representatives walked the county’s public safety officials and first responders through their system, demonstrating how the county’s disparate public safety agencies could benefit from a fully integrated, computer-aided dispatch and records system that connects area agencies to each other on one centralized system.

“Ultimately, it translates into increased safety and operational efficiency,” Ada City Manager Cody Holcomb said during a discussion Monday after the presentation. “I think the more that we all talk and have the ability to share that information, it does those things.”

Such a system could allow police officers, firefighters and emergency medical personnel to know where each other are at all times and grant them instant access to real-time information about their calls for service. The system would also allow investigators to share reports and file information across agencies.

For example, an Ada police detective working on a missing-person case could share reports and information seamlessly with county sheriff’s deputies conducting a separate, but related, investigation into the discovery of a body outside the city’s jurisdiction. Such investigations are currently underway by both agencies, but they do not use the same software or networked systems to process their reports and store information. An integrated approach could make the task easier and more efficient.

The Spillman Flex software would also allow a police officer on a traffic stop to see instantly whether any other county agency has dealt with the individual the officer is currently dealing with.

“We’ve looked (at alternatives),” Ada Public Safety Director Jeff Crosby said. “Including at the program Lighthorse is using — they hate it. They’re wanting to go to Spillman, too. If they do, we’ll be able to link with them, too.”

Crosby is spearheading the herculean task of updating and replacing aging communication equipment used by Central Dispatch — the city-owned, now county-funded 911 call center that serves all of Pontotoc County. It is no small undertaking.

“We currently use a Global CAD (computer-aided dispatch) system, and it’s 15 years old,” Crosby said. “It doesn’t talk to the firehouse. It doesn’t talk to EMS. Spillman will communicate directly with those agencies.”

Crosby anticipates it would take city and county officials 12 to 14 months to implement the Spillman Flex system if city and county officials sign off on the purchase, the final price for which has not yet been negotiated.

“Programmatically, I have it in our budget to present to the (city) council,” Holcomb said. “But, it will be conditioned and caveated upon approval of the county. We can’t do it without the county.”

Holcomb said he expected to present a formal proposal to commissioners in the next few weeks.

“If we can come up with the money,” District 1 Commissioner Gary Starns said. “That’s what we’ll do.”

District 3 Commissioner Justin Roberts and Pontotoc County Sheriff John Christian were not available to attend the demonstration, but both are expected to weigh in with their thoughts on the Spillman Flex system before a final decision is made.

“I like the whole idea,” District 2 Commissioner Danny Davis said. “We’ll have to get the sheriff involved and we still don’t know a price yet, but I like the idea.”

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