County and public safety officials debuted a new computer-aided dispatch system this week, highlighting immediate improvements to report filing logistics and incident tracking capabilities.
(TNS) — Marion County Sheriff Jimmy Riffle didn’t mince words Wednesday in lauding the benefits of a new computer-aided dispatch system at the West Virginia county's 911 center.
“Probably in the 30-plus years of law enforcement that I’ve been a part of, this is the single most important advancement we’ve made,” he said.
Several officials and members of the law enforcement community got a first-hand demonstration of the system, called Zuercher, which went active June 25.
Riffle said officials started looking into purchasing Zuercher eight months ago.
“When it was first explained to me — I’m not a very technical guy — but it seemed very simple, and that has proven to be very true,” he said. “The system is easily operated. The deputies and the municipalities that are using it now find it far more efficient, far easier. It allows them to complete their reports quicker and get back out on the roads to do what they should be doing.”
Riffle thought the system was helping get the county closer to where it needed to be, to modernize.
“West Virginia always seems to be just a little behind the curve,” he said. “Law enforcement seems to be a little behind the curve when it comes to the criminals out there.”
But no more.
“This one puts us solidly in, if not in front of, that curve,” he said. “We’re going to be able to share information on the people from Marion County that we have come in contact with, with the other surrounding counties.”
He said it’s a “great safety tool for the people in the field.”
“And by keeping them safe, it lets them keep the rest of the community safer,” he said.
Riffle said the system’s capabilities are “absolutely phenomenal.” He said it brings “a measure of safety” and “a measure of cooperation between the surrounding counties and the municipalities here, where all this information can be shared.”
Riffle said the system can map where problems have occurred the night before in the county.
“Say, three or four breaking and enterings were in the northern end of the county, and nothing happened in the south end of the county, and we see that throughout a week or a month’s time, then we know we can better deploy our resources to that end of the county because that’s where the problems are occurring at that time,” he said. Riffle noted the system also has “capabilities of individualism.”
“What my department would do is not necessarily what White Hall PD would do or Mannington PD, or even Taylor, Harrison or Mon counties,” he said. “”We can build individual modules into this system that will do what we want it to do, as well as get that information out to the other counties.”
Riffle thanked Chris McIntire, director of the Marion County Department of Homeland Security & Emergency Management, for setting up the system. He also thanked Zuercher for providing training and the county commission for “making it happen” with funding.
“This advancement that we have here is incredible,” said Randy Elliott, county commission president Randy Elliott said. “Communication is so vitally important here in Marion County.”
He said the system represented “the largest single investment for the advancement of 911 communications since this place was built.” Elliott said the system costs more than $400,000.
“It allows our officers to share information more accurately and immediately,” he said. “It makes it more efficient and safer for everyone.”
Elliott said he was “very proud as a county commissioner to have been part of this, to help support this and fund this.”
He said the system allows a police officer pulling up on a vehicle to get information off a license plate and know “immediately” whether someone, for example, is a felon or is wanted for a serious offense.
“You know what you’re dealing with immediately,” he said.
He said Marion County has been “a leader in public safety for many years,” and strives every day to keep citizens and first responders safe.
Elliott said the “cutting-edge technology” allows for greater safety for responders, faster response times to incidents and puts needed data at the fingertips of first responders.
“With upgrades in our Computer Aided Dispatch, Mobile CAD in the vehicles, CAD and records management at all of the police agencies, we now can work with one database platform that allows information sharing like never before,” he said. “Every participating agency will have the ability to access the data from one central database for secure and safe operations. The new Community Data Platform will allow participating users to share data all over the United States. We are working toward sharing data with every county in West Virginia, especially our surrounding counties.”
Since crime has no borders and incidents cross jurisdictions daily, he said “these new tools will give the first responders the capabilities they need in keeping the citizens safe. Some of what you will see here today is the start of our continued efforts to ensure the safety of our responders and citizens.”
In demonstrating how the system works, McIntire used a house fire as an example.
“As soon as you do a call like that, it will show what units need to go on the call,” he said. “It will show what fire companies, what law enforcement goes, what medical companies respond.
“And as this happens, it’s real time with the field units,” he said.
McIntire added that safety alerts can come up with a call, alerting first responders, for example, if there is a propane tank in a building. He noted the system also shows if there have been previous calls at a location.
©2019 the Times West Virginian (Fairmont, W. Va.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.