Police expect data system to increase efficiency

Newton police will roll out new dispatch and records technology this spring that they say will make the department more efficient and help solve more crimes.

Newton Police Department (NPD) will launch its new computer-aided dispatch (CAD) and Records Management System (RMS) beginning in May.

Police officials say the updated, computer-based systems will “streamline” processes that used to take dispatchers, officers and supervisors weeks and months to do.

The Newton City Council budgeted $373,500 for the data-processing equipment in the 2011-12 budget’s Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) it approved last summer.

The CAD system offers Newton’s dispatchers and officers the ability to pinpoint exact addresses on an interactive map and even see real Google Earth pictures of what the “street view” would resemble for a responding officer.

“Instead of just having one map like in the past, we really have three maps,” said Newton Police Capt. Tim Hayes. “With these maps, the officer and dispatcher are going to know exactly where that house is located.”

Dispatchers will also have access to detailed information that was more difficult to access in the past, such as caller history, business names, event history, related reports and other mapped information.

Sex offender locations can also be added and saved to the maps, as well as traffic cameras in busy or often-congested intersections.

“In the past, it may have taken hours, days or weeks to pull out that data,” Hayes said.

The mapped systems include streets, addresses and Google Earth data for the whole county, and dispatchers can even check on officers who travel beyond the county's borders.

Officers will also have mobile access to the CAD and RMS systems in their patrol cars.

“If they get in their patrol car, they can run the exact same report, or really anything, that dispatch can,” said Newton Police Chief Don Brown.

The computerized RMS system includes 100 percent of Newton Police Department’s historical data, including more than 230,000 names that had to be transferred before a switch from the old system.

Contrary to the department's current records system that uses rolodex and paper records, everything in the new RMS is at the touch of a button. It allows Newton police, dispatchers and staff to access decades of incident reports, arrests and a host of other historical data in mere minutes, compared to the weeks it takes to compile information now, Hayes said.

The CAD and RMS are operated through SunGard OSSI, a form of software used by hundreds of police departments and agencies within the county, state and nation.

Using the software’s “Police 2 Police” system, Newton will share records and information with other departments and vice versa, something Hayes said will help the department catch criminals who travel past Newton and county lines.

“The city of Hickory has the exact same system, and we are looking forward to sharing this system with them,” said Jason Clay, the city of Newton’s information systems director.

Newton’s CAD system goes live May 1. The RMS system launches June 1.

"There are so many things this computer can do that our current system cannot," Hayes said. "We have just scratched the surface."