Marion County, Ohio’s sheriff reported a new computer-aided dispatch system is speeding access to information, as well as communication with law enforcement in neighboring jurisdictions, among other improvements.
During the last commission meeting, Riffle spoke to the commissioners about the system, which is called Zuercher.
“We started roughly eight, nine months ago looking into a new communications system here in the county,” he said.
He said the old system was becoming outdated and the servers were overloaded.
“So, we started looking at some options, and with your...help, we were able to obtain a new system that’s called Zuercher,” he said.
He said the system is more modernized.
“It allows us to access information more quickly,” he said. “It also allows us to access information from any other agency in the surrounding areas that may be using this system because we all know our bad guys are Mon County’s bad guys, are Taylor County’s bad guys, are Harrison County’s bad guys. They just move.”
He said Zuercher is up and running now, although they’re still in the process of transferring records over from the old system.
“There’s just a few tweaks we have left in it, but it’s allowing us now to keep a better track, especially the deputies in the field with their laptops,” he said. “If they come across somebody, they can put a name in and if they’re wanted in Harrison, Mon, Taylor, here (Marion County), it will access that information almost immediately.”
“It’s allowing them that have been trained to check license plates…driver’s license, criminal histories,” he continued. “It allows the people working in the comm center now to do a little less as far as running those terminals…they can concentrate on the calls coming in and getting people where they need to be.”
He noted other benefits of the system.
“It also allows us to track common crimes in different areas so that we can use our resources, as limited as they are, to concentrate on areas where we know crimes are occurring,” he said. “We can bring up a map and it will pin drop burglaries, drug incidents, even something as simple as shoplifting. It will track those now.”
Riffle said it gives the deputies in the field “a whole lot better resource, a much better tool in doing their jobs that’s made it a little easier for them.”
“And you’ll see that here in a few months when I come back with a report of the arrests,” he told the commissioners. He said they’re increasing.
According to Marion County Administrator Kris Cinalli, the county contributed $80,000 for the Zuercher software.
Riffle also told the commissioners about some other items that have been obtained for the department with the commission’s financial support.
He told them about the deputies’ new portable radios. He said they are much more modern than than old ones, which he said are out of date and starting to break down.
“It’s a great safety system for our guys,” he said. “It gives them a better range of communication. Also these new ones, we can encrypt up to three channels on them. If it’s a sensitive conversation or investigation, it’s not out there on the air waves.”
Riffle said the department is getting a new K9 officer that will be trained in drug identification, tracking and object search. He said a deputy has been assigned as the dog’s handler.
“Here within the last year, within our budgets, within what we can use from our carry and conceal permits and our seizures, what you all have provided, we’ve basically brought the sheriff’s department ahead 10,15 years in our communications and our abilities,” Riffle told the commissioners.
“It lets us serve the people better, keeps our guys safe. I just wanted to bring it out there and thank you. Here in a few months, we’ll bring you a report of what we’re seeing as the trends, what we’re doing about it, where we can concentrate our people to better take care of it,” Riffle said.
County Commission President Randy Elliott thanked Riffle for the update.
“Obviously, it’s important to us to keep our citizens safe, also our deputies safe, and these tools and equipment, the dog, are all necessary to do that,” he said. “It’s nice we’re getting ahead of the curve instead of trying to catch up to the curve.”
He said it’s a “constant battle” with such issues as the opioid epidemic.
“We’ve got to try to keep ahead of it if we can,” he said.
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