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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In the spring of 2017, dozens of burglaries were reported in the city of Clovis.
Located in California’s Central Valley, Clovis averages approximately 1,000 burglaries per year. However, the city shares a border with the city of Fresno, which has the second-highest property crime rate in the county.
According to Sgt. James Munro of the Clovis Police Dept., law enforcement officers worked with crime analysts to determine a pattern among the burglaries. To do this, data was taken from the Clovis PD’s law enforcement records management system.
This data showed when and where individuals reported their vehicles were broken into along with what was stolen, which included wallets, purses, and valuables.
This information was gathered by victims' reports, security camera footage, time of day, and location of the burglaries. Individuals also reported the type of vehicle used to flee the scene, although none could get a read on the license plate number.
With all of this information, crime analysts with the Clovis PD were able to connect cases and identify a pattern.
"Our crime analysts were able to use this information generated from our records system, which helped us connect all of the open burglary cases," Munro said. "When you're able to connect cases not only can you potentially identify a suspect, but you can also start developing a crime pattern,".
By connecting cases and examining data within the police department's records system, a suspect was identified and his description was shared with officers.
The suspect was apprehended during a routine traffic stop when the patrol officer noticed he fit the description of the burglary suspect and had stolen property in his vehicle. The Clovis PD closed more than 40 open burglary cases as a result of arresting the individual.
A train crash is something many commuters never even think about until it happens.
In the early morning hours of Feb. 24, 2015, an individual mistakenly drove his truck onto the grade crossing of a railroad track in Oxnard, CA. The truck became stuck on the track and the driver exited the vehicle without calling for help.
Within 12 minutes, the truck was struck by a commuter train traveling from East Ventura to Los Angeles at 64 mph. The train derailed sending three of its five cars onto the roadway alongside the track.
Almost immediately after the derailment, 9-1-1 calls began flooding dispatchers in Oxnard. According to the Oxnard PD's IT Manager Raja Bamrungpong, an accident of this magnitude resulted in numerous public safety agencies responding.
"As soon as the calls came in to dispatch about the train crash, we knew this would be a large response," Bamrungpong said.
Dispatchers with the Oxnard PD sent a fast response to the scene using their computer aided dispatch (CAD) software.
With CAD, dispatchers see where all first responders are located on a digital map. In the event of an emergency with possible life-threatening injuries like in the train crash, this ability to see where units are located along with their estimated times of arrival (ETA) data helps send the fastest response to the scene.
Within minutes, officers from Oxnard were on the scene along with several other law enforcement agencies and fire departments that were dispatched to assist in the response.
At the time of the accident, more than 25 individuals who were passengers on the train were taken to area hospitals and treated for injuries.
"Being able to respond quickly to an accident as large as the train derailment and provide services to all those impacted is something we strive to do as an agency," Bamrungpong said.
A lot can change in less than a minute.
For an officer with the El Cajon Police Department, there was a lot riding on that small unit of time.
The officer had radioed in to dispatch and all he could say was that he had been hit. The call taker had no way of knowing if that meant he had been involved in a collision or shot.
Sue said in less than a minute, the call taker had identified the officer's location using the Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) functionality of their Computer Aided Dispatch software. With this information, dispatchers were able to send a rescue response to the officer.
What they discovered upon arrival was that the officer had been involved in a collision. While stopped at a traffic light, the officer's vehicle was rear-ended by another vehicle traveling at 35 mph.
The officer suffered a broken neck, but had made a full recovery. The driver of the other vehicle was uninjured.
"This case serves as a prime example of how great the software is," Sue said. "We were able to get to his location even when he was unable to speak. AVL is a life-saving tool."
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