Residents of Payson and Star Valley will see quicker response times thanks to a new communications system put in place by the Payson Police Department.
In September 2003, voters overwhelmingly approved a public safety improvement project. The police and fire departments were given $1.36 million of that money.
The Payson Police Department used the funds to update its equipment. The new system will change how most calls are handled.
The police department has been working with New World System for more than a year to get the new equipment up and running.
Payson Police Commander Don Engler said the improvements include computer aided dispatch software, record management and computer data terminals inside patrol cars.
"We were operating on software that was implemented in the 1980s," he said. "We were operating on (equipment) that is 20 years old."
The new computer data terminals inside patrol cars, Payson Police Commander Don Engler said, will handle the less serious calls in place of radios, while the more serious crimes will still be able to be heard on police scanners.
Engler said, the system upgrade is comparable to what larger and midsize police departments have done and are doing.
He said in the state of Arizona there are six to eight other police agencies currently using this system.
Included in the improvements are automatic vehicle locators where dispatchers can look at an on-screen map to find out where the officers are patrolling.
The system includes automatic vehicle locators to help dispatcher discern who is closest to the call.
"With this new computer, we will be able to look at and prioritize calls," Engler said.
With the in-car computers, officers will have information at their fingertips. When a call comes in, the location of the call will show up on the screen with directions.
"The improved response time will be tremendous," said Sgt. Rod Mamero. "It's pretty state of the art. It's a good safety issue.
"It's going to be a real valuable tool," Mamero continued, adding that the car mapping is much quicker than pulling over and looking at a map.
Engler said it is not uncommon for officers to ask dispatchers two or three times for an address, slowing the response time. This should never happen with the new system.
If an officer is questioning a suspect and believes a false name is being given, officers with their new equipment will be able to get information on the suspect to see if he or she is being truthful.
Most of the paperwork, Engler said, will be eliminated because officers will be able to e-mail their records and reports through the computer-aided dispatch terminals.
Police Dispatcher Irma Bramlet said the new software allows the department to separate the police calls from fire department calls. She also said dispatchers are able to determine what officers are busy and which ones are on patrols as well as locations for priority calls.
She said the new system is color-coded to see where officers are and to see if they are available.
"This has made it a lot easier to separate the calls," Bramlet said.