When Galt police were involved in a high-speed pursuit last month that ended in a crash off Highway 99, a new computer-aided dispatch system allowed responding officers to locate the accident more efficiently.
When the initial call came in, the officer gave the wrong offramp exit. However, the police cruiser — equipped with Global Positioning System, or GPS, technology — pinpointed the exact location and help was sent.
The Galt Police Department’s new dispatch system uses state-of-the-art technology to improve communication, reporting, crime analysis and officer safety, according to City Manager Jason Behrmann.
The system went live in late September. It cost taxpayers $210,000, but the city believes it will quickly recoup that money, as the old system cost about $23,000 annually to maintain.
“Citizens should know that (RIMS) is an integrated system which stores and retrieves information from one system as opposed to the several systems previously used,” Galt police dispatcher Sabrina Lambson said. “Simply put, it allows officers and dispatchers to do their jobs faster, safer and more accurately.”
The software package, provided by Sun Ridge Systems, Inc., was actually created with law enforcement input. It includes computer-aided dispatch, a records management system, enhanced 911 services, an information link to the state, property room bar-coding software and equipment, mapping, mug shot and digital imaging system, public access software, and data conversion services to create historical reports.
Thanks to the amount of information stored, the system provides a one-step inquiry that will display all prior contacts with a person, vehicle or property — including known associates, the subject’s arrest record, personal descriptors, photos and officer safety flags, Lambson said.
The system also had tracking capabilities for various registrants, parolees, those on probation, known gang members and trespassers, she said.
The dispatchers’ personal favorite feature is the ability to scan and attach location maps to a specific address.
For example, the police department now has the capability to scan maps and evacuation routes for all schools, as well as each school’s emergency operations plan, directly into the system. This information was previously stored in various binders within the communications center. Now it’s accessible to dispatchers and patrol officers in seconds with just a few key strokes, Lambson said.
When a 911 call is received, not only does the system automatically map the location of the caller, but it also provides a dispatcher with a call history of that location, which can be especially helpful when responding to domestic violence calls, according to police.
Dispatchers can see where the closest responding officer is, and the system also helps locate officers more quickly and efficiently, especially if they haven’t contacted dispatchers in a while.
Both officers and dispatchers have commented on the mapping and GPS functions, and how useful they have been during pursuits and when establishing perimeters, Lambson said.
“Officers have also stated they like being able to see the location of pending calls and the capability to assign themselves to them,” she said.
Approximately 100 police departments across the state use the system, according to Lt. Brian Vizzusi, who oversaw the transition from the old system to the new.
Local police staff trained with the Citrus Heights Police Department in September to familiarize themselves with the system.
Contact reporter Jennifer Bonnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.