In the world of public safety, dispatchers play a pivotal role in emergency responses. Severe weather, fire emergencies, and criminal acts all require first responders to get on the scene as quickly and safely as possible. To get them there, dispatchers need computer aided dispatch (CAD) tools.
Explore these feature stories to read about how agencies from across the United States help create safer communities when responding to calls for service.
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A Deadly Terrorist Attack: Lessons Learned
Public safety agencies throughout the United States gather an enormous amount of data every day. With the ability to harness and use this data, public safety personnel have the actionable intelligence needed to employ intelligence-led policing initiatives and create safer communities.
When public safety agencies have predictive policing capabilities, law enforcement officials use data to predict, prevent, and reduce crime. The Everett Police Department, located in Snohomish County, Washington, used predictive policing capabilities to reduce thefts in the city.
When cutbacks in 2015 resulted in a reduction of officers on patrol throughout Kankakee County, the county experienced a rash of burglaries.
For three weeks, burglars ransacked homes in search of guns, jewelry, electronics, cash and anything else of value.
"It got to the point where you were either a victim of the burglaries, neighbors with someone who had been a victim or afraid of becoming a victim," according to Becky Powell, Investigation's Officer Manager for the Kankakee County Sheriff's Office.
The burglaries took place in Kankakee's neighboring counties as well, and all information from those incidences were entered into Kankakee's records system.
This collection of shared data along with tips that were called in helped generate documents in the records system so that law enforcement officials and other individuals involved in solving the case had instant, accessible information.
"The criminals involved in the burglaries knew that we had a reduction in force," Trent Bukowski, IT Director for the Kankakee County Sheriff's Office said. "They took advantage of the lighter patrol that was going on throughout the county."
A break in the case came when the burglars were caught on a security camera stealing from a Walmart store in Kankakee. The surveillance footage provided a description of the offenders and the two vehicles they were driving.
What was especially notable about this footage was that one of the burglars was seen wearing a Chicago Bulls t-shirt in the video. This helped investigators tie the individual to a residential burglary that took place later in which that same shirt was found at the scene.
These descriptions were entered into Kankakee's records system and alerts were put out so that all officers in the county and surrounding areas knew what the suspects looked like and what cars they were driving.
Once officers were aware of this vital intelligence, they arrested the individuals as they left the scene of a burglary. The individuals were caught with items stolen from houses and items with tags on them from Walmart, which were purchased with stolen credit cards.
With the information sharing and data integration capabilities of the Kankakee County Sheriff's Office's computer aided dispatch, records, mobile, field reporting and corrections public safety software solutions, these criminals were able to be brought to justice.
To combat mass shootings and gun violence, law enforcement officers and public safety personnel throughout the country have the opportunity to participate in various training procedures each year.
These trainings focus on terrorism, active shooters, mass shootings and other related topics so that both civilian employees and sworn officers are able to perform safely and effectively during any given situation.
This type of training was especially beneficial for those working for the San Bernardino Police Department when they dealt with a terrorist attack December 2, 2015.
According to Chief Jarrod Burguan, many of his civilian employees and sworn officers had been trained in dealing with an active shooter. This training came from not only planned courses, but from the day to day realities of working in public safety.
"With the crime rate in our city and numerous shootings per week, our officers were well equipped to deal with the events of the terrorist attack," police dispatch supervisor Annie Teall said. "What happened on the day of the attack was a large-scale version of what first responders deal with on a daily basis."
In spite of the training that comes with experience, Teall said that she, along with several others in the department, took part in a tactical dispatcher class to enhance their skillset. This training helped those working in dispatch to become more familiar with field operations during hostage negotiations and SWAT callouts.
"With the tactical dispatcher training, it was easier to anticipate what the field units were going to try to accomplish while on site the day of the terrorist attack," Teall said.
According to the San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan, this on-the-job and additional training helped all those involved in protecting the public during the terrorist attack to perform to the best of their abilities.
"Protecting the public is what we do," Burguan said. "Training is imperative to keeping both the public and officers safe no matter what the circumstances are."
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