Another valuable feature of the MDC is that it helps ensure officer safety with GPS and mapping abilities enabled so that real time latitude and longitude coordinates for field units and events can be visually displayed on digital maps.
New London Officer Rob Thorp says the MDC "gives us the ability to communicate in stealth mode."
"We sign off at a location, give the dispatcher the information on what we're doing, where we're at, and they just acknowledge via their terminal, and no one knows where we are."Prioritizing call urgency
Because of New London PD's integrated records management system, Thorp estimates that his productivity in the field has increased by 35 to 40 percent. "That means I can stop five more cars on a shift," Thorp says. "But it also means our officers can stay on the road more consistently, for 8 hours a shift as opposed to 4 or 5 hours before."
For Heather Wood, dispatcher for New London's Regional Dispatch Center, the CAD system allows more information to be captured and stored at the start of a call. "If an officer needs to pull off the side of the road to add any notes he needs for that record, he can do so, but it may not be urgent to do this when the officer is actually on the call," she says.
Recording all information for a call for service in the CAD module is essential because it may need to be referenced at a later time. Wood says this is why the Regional Dispatch Center prints a CAD sheet from the Crimestar CAD system whenever there is a request for discovery on radio transmissions. Armed with the CAD sheet, "We go back to our recording program and are able to pull tapes according to what's been logged in Crimestar's CAD so that we can get to the transmission more easily," Wood explains.
With RMS software, there tends to be big price differentials as vendors each target a particular size of police agency and city population, and may or may not break out modules such as RMS, computer-aided dispatch and mobile data communications. Some RMS programs can cost no more than a few thousand while others can begin at the $500,000 mark and can spiral upward fast. The cost for the Crimestar RMS system (sold on a concurrent user licensing basis) starts at $3,000. (The Crimestar CAD and MDC systems are sold separately.)
"We decided we could offer an RMS product that does everything more expensive and elaborate software will do, at a price threshold that even the small customers can afford," Gagne says.The software litmus test
There is no denial that automating records management can save a tremendous amount of time and make data retrieval quicker and more streamlined. For an agency looking into new records management solutions, choosing the right software to fit a department's needs can seem daunting with the variety of vendors and options available.
The fact that New London police officers now have a group of information management systems (RMS/CAD/MDC) that is mobile saves time and allows them to be more efficient and productive, fixing the problems the agency had with its previous systems.
"I can now enter my information into the RMS, do database searches and prepare reports right from the patrol unit," Thorp explains.
For the New London Police, these capabilities give officers the opportunity to patrol more. And because it is a regional dispatch center and handles police, fire and ambulance calls for nine towns, the CAD system is able to offer added efficiencies, giving those connected an easier way to track, link and store records.For agencies of all sizes
If you are in the market for a records management software system to fit your police agency's specific needs, in addition to Crimestar Corp., several vendors offer RMS programs that target small, mid-size and large police departments, with varying price ranges:
- Information Technologies Inc.
- InterAct Public Safety Systems
- New World Systems
- Public Safety Systems Inc.
- Spillman Technologies
- Tiburon Inc.
- TriTech Software Systems
Bob Galvin specializes in writing about public safety. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.