May 24, 2020
By: Dwayne Page
The DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department has completed a new technology upgrade by putting Global Positioning System (GPS) devices in all patrol and jail transport cars. The move is intended to improve safety, efficiency and response times.
When a call comes in to the 911 center, the GPS system will allow dispatchers to determine which deputy is closer for a response.
“The dispatcher now will be able to look on a computer screen and see the closest unit that is located to a call. Before installing the GPS system, dispatchers would rotate calls to the patrol deputies. If another deputy was closer to the call, that deputy would have to tell dispatch by radio that he would be responding. By doing this, it would often cause excessive radio transmissions , be confusing to the dispatcher, and take extra time dispatching calls when seconds mattered,” said Sheriff Patrick Ray.
By being able to track the movement of deputies especially during pursuits and inmate transports, the GPS system serves another useful purpose.
“Sometimes a pursuit will go beyond the DeKalb County line into another county where our deputies may be unfamiliar with roads. With this GPS system, the dispatcher can advise them and other officers of the location,” Sheriff Ray continued.
“Correctional officers at the jail often transport inmates to and from other jails as well as to medical facilities. The GPS technology will allow central dispatch to monitor these transports in case there is a problem,” he said.
GPS units have also been installed on the Sheriff’s Department’s two litter trucks used for roadside litter pick up by supervised inmates from the jail.
The technology can even be used to track the mileage of the patrol cars, where they have been, and the maintenance schedule.
“The system will allow me to monitor where the patrol cars have traveled, their speed, how long the cars idled and to see in real time what the vehicles have been doing,” said Sheriff Ray.
“Patrol Supervisors can also be alerted when a vehicle needs to be serviced. Oil changes and other maintenance issues are the life of a patrol vehicle. We not only have to look at the age and the mileage of the vehicle, we must also account for the patrol cars’ idle time at wrecks, crime scenes, and other calls. Another thing we look at is the transmission. Every night we do security checks on around 40 businesses and once a week we conduct security checks at about 55 churches. That is a lot of shifting the cars’ transmission back and forth from park to drive,” he said.
The GPS system was acquired from funds already available in the sheriff’s department’s budget.
“The system was bought based on a state contract price. There is a monthly payment for data use but fees will come out of my current budget. I will not be asking for an increase in next year’s budget for the GPS system. If the system saves any maintenance cost to a patrol vehicle it should pay for itself. If it saves an officer’s life, it will pay for itself for many years to come,” added Sheriff Ray.