The city's public safety committee met on Wednesday, Sept. 19 to discuss the city's future involvement with the CAD mobile data project. The project was first brought to the Dyer County E911 board's attention in June 2011 by Dyersburg Police Chief Art Heun as a tool that would greatly enhance officer safety, create a more effective records system and would lead to increased public safety.
The E911 board is investing a significant amount of capital on behalf of the Dyer County Sherriff's Office, the Newbern Police Department and the Dyersburg Police Department to purchase the hardware but Heun wanted to bring his concerns about future funding to the committee's attention.
"One of the concerns I have is that the community is willing to fund this after the funding goes away from the 911 board," said Heun.
Alderman Bob Kirk, who serves as chairman of the public safety committee, asked Heun to explain what the CAD mobile data terminals would do exactly.
"Essentially it's an in-car computer," said Heun.
Heun went on to explain that calls can be dispatched directly to patrol units and that the computers give officers access to a lot of information out in the field. Heun explained that some of the advantages of the system include being able to do a suspect lineup out in the field while information is still fresh in the victim's mind. The system also has the ability to send out missing-person photos and information to other officers in the field.
"This system makes information more accessible to our officers," said Heun.
"So this will make your department more efficient in disseminating information?" asked Kirk.
Heun said it would make police more efficient but he was concerned about recurring fees, somewhere in the neighborhood of $17,000. Heun said he was also concerned about maintenance and upkeep and needing another individual other than the city's information technology manager Carmen Cupples to tend to the technology needs of the police department.
"Carmen is very gracious in assisting us when he is away from the office but we run a 24/7 operation," said Heun. "If something isn't working on Saturday, it has to wait until Monday when Carmen comes in to be fixed."
Heun asked that the city allow him to hire another individual that would work two-thirds of the time on the DPD's technology needs. Alderwoman Jewell Horner asked if the individual could be used for the remaining third of the time to assist Cupples with the city's technology needs.
"If this board will fund it, sure we can do that," responded Dyersburg Mayor John Holden.
Holden asked Heun about officer safety and if there was a concern that they would be distracted while entering information. Heun says that in-car video is currently reviewed to ensure that officers are maintaining awareness at all times. Heun went on to say that part of the training will have to include ensuring they are not putting themselves at risk while using the system.
"The 911 board is making a hefty investment on the front end," said Kirk. "It's an enhancement not only for your department but for the city. We have to be able to figure out some way to maintain the equipment."
According to Dyersburg Emergency Operations Manager Mark Grant, the 911 board is spending approximately $700,000 in hardware costs to get the project off the ground. Grant says that costs on the project would be covered until July 2013. Horner moved that the committee recommend going forward with the project to include hiring another individual to support the DPD's technology needs. The motion was seconded by Alderwoman Joan Wyatt and unanimously approved.
Grant told the board that if the hardware costs were approved by the 911 board at their next meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 25, it would take six to eight weeks to receive the hardware and the project should be online by December of this year.