By KARLA POMEROY
Keeping up with technology is never easy, especially in law enforcement. Last Tuesday, Big Horn County Sheriff Ken Blackburn requested using $150,000 of E911 surcharge funding to help upgrade the computer-aided dispatch system for the county.
He said, “Technology is a huge issue and if we get too far behind we’re shot. We’re constantly trying to keep up to date.”
He said the current enhanced 911 system doesn’t have true voice-over or internet protocol interface. “We don’t have a current computer-aided dispatch system that can organize information that comes in on 911 calls,” Blackburn said.
The new system, RIMS, would catalogue names, phone numbers, addresses and incidents. He said the system will link the history attached to each.
Blackburn said the advantage of the system is that they will know right away if the address they are responding to has had any violent incidents in the past and they can be better prepared.
“This is a safety issue for our officers,” he said.
Blackburn added that the county dispatch, which dispatches for multiple agencies, handles about 10,000 calls per month.
The upgrade planned for the entire system would also include an upgrade to speed up the Reverse 911 system for the county. The current system takes several hours to contact just half the county. The new system can contact the entire county in a matter of minutes.
Cost of the system is about $250,000. He said they have secured $37,000 in grants and requested and received $50,000 from the Big Horn County Local Emergency Planning Committee.
“We’d like to phase in the project and begin with the computer-aided dispatch by working with phone carriers to bring in the new system. We’d then coordinate the digital systems,” Blackburn said.
Blackburn said there is $400,000 available from the E911 surcharge funding from the charges levied on residents landline and cell phones bills. He said the project will qualify for use of the funds and he requested using $150,000.
Park County has the system and is able to use it to post public record information on its website at http://pcso.crimegraphics.com/. They system also allows each agency with the same system to link some information so the Big Horn County Sheriff’s Office can see if a suspect has had issues in another county.
Blackburn and Capt. Brent Godfrey said it will improve communication and information sharing between agencies, which will aid in investigations.