Police Updating Communication Equipment

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The Payson Police Department is in the process of updating its equipment, and it will change how most of its calls are handled.

Computer data terminals inside patrol cars, Payson Police Commander Don Engler said, will handle the mundane police calls, while the more serious crimes will still be handled by police radios. The PPD hopes to have this new system fully in place by the first of the year.

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The Payson Police Department is currently using a communications system that was put in place in the 1980s.

Upgrading portions of the Payson Police Department's software and equipment is the result of a September 2003 election in which the public approved $1.3 million dollars for the Public Safety Bond Project.

Engler said the system upgrade will be comparable to what larger and middle-size police departments have done and are doing.

"It is going to increase our capability and efficiency in response to calls," Engler said.

The police department currently is using software that is outdated, he said.

"We are operating on software that was implemented in the 1980s," he said. "We are operating on (equipment) that is 20 years old."

The terminals in the patrol cars will give officers more information, such as booking photos, and the mobile data terminals will decrease radio traffic that currently can be picked up by most police scanners.

Officers and dispatch will be typing in the information, and police will be able to see their calls and calls to other officers while still on patrol.

"With this new computer, we will be able to look at and prioritize calls," Engler said. "Officers will have the ability to see their (designated) calls."

Patrol officers will be able to have photos of people and vehicles sent to them through their computer terminals.

"Not enough can be said about photo identification," Engler said.

The PPD is also going to digital cameras for its patrol officers, and by doing this will enable officers to share photos with each other.

Engler used a hit and run case as an example, wherein an officer in another part of town could locate the driver and car that left the scene of the accident through photos he can see of paint marks and other damage from the car at the location of the accident.

Another key component of the new technology is software called an Automatic Locating System that will be able to pinpoint the exact location of a police car at any time. He said if an officer cannot be contacted for some reason, his vehicle could be located through this tracking system. Right now, the department relies solely on radio contact.

The police department has already received some of the computer-assisted information and will be training some employees next week in the use of the new equipment.

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