The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office and the Clearwater Police Department partnered to combine their resources to enhance technological interoperability, improve incident response, increase officer safety and provide a platform that other agencies could join in the future. The possibilities of countywide connectivity are numerous and available, since the CAD-to-CAD connectivity has been expanded to include two or more remote CAD-to-CAD connections. Additionally, for agencies that dispatch for multiple agencies (police, fire, EMS), configurations can be made to direct and send an incident to a specific agency, or all agencies, depending on the nature of the incident.
Pinellas County is the most densely populated county for its size in the state of Florida. PCSO, 11 police departments and numerous other state and local public safety services operate in this small space. Out of a strong desire to promote information sharing among these agencies, Pinellas County government developed an information-sharing organization known as the Pinellas Assembly.
As a member of this Assembly, the City of Clearwater city leaders were committed early on to information sharing as a prerequisite for any new technology implemented by the police department. In 2006, when Clearwater Police began the process of procuring a new communications solution including computer-aided dispatch, mobile data and records management systems, information sharing was an important component in their request for proposal (RFP). CPD's existing system had become increasingly difficult to maintain and did not provide data sharing capabilities to communicate with other agencies and external jurisdictions. An important requirement for CPD's new solution was to include a bi-directional interface to the sheriff's communications and dispatch system.
With this in mind, CPD invited PCSO to participate and provide input in the procurement process, and a natural partnership was formed based on the common goal of saving time and money through a joint procurement. The combined team reviewed numerous RFPs, observed various vendor demonstrations and conducted site visits to other agencies where the proposed technology was already operational.
Opening the door to information sharing at one level provided benefits at many other levels.
In addition to partnering on the computer-aided dispatch and mobile systems, CPD partnered with PCSO on its records management system and in-field computer reporting capabilities. CPD is also able to share in the automated ticket writing program initially in place at the PCSO.
It is important to remember that PCSO and Clearwater Police are remain two distinct and autonomous law enforcement agencies operating on separate communications systems. CPD and PCSO operate separate communications centers, with their separate CAD and mobile systems and infrastructure. CPD and PCSO launched their CAD and mobile data solution in October 2007 and November 2007, respectively.
Real-time information sharing
Prior to the introduction of the interface, calls for information from other jurisdictions or for mutual aid were transferred manually by call-takers in communications centers. When citizen calls come in, after gathering details, a call taker finds out that the crime occurred outside the center's jurisdiction and the call will be transferred to another agency, forcing the caller to repeat the story a second time. This cycle of call-and-repeat delays response time.
The new interface has provided great value to both operations. While phone calls are still transferred manually to CPD, the actual information about the caller and the incident is seamlessly transferred with the click of a button or via command line. The CPD dispatcher instantaneously has the call ticket in his or her queue, along with all the pertinent information. The response to the call is already being evaluated even before the call is physically transferred.