Tinted Glass

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Tinted Glass

Postby dboedigheimer on Mon Nov 01, 2010 11:17 am

Hi there. I'm a Chief of Police in a rural town in NE Oregon. I'm also in charge of our dispatch center. We are in a situation where our police lobby give immediate access to our dispatch through a safety glass, with a phone line for communication. I was recently asked by the supervisor is they could tint the window (it's large, about 4' by 5'), since a lot can be seen by the public as to what goes on in there. I allowed the privacy tinting, which also solved a problem with the public potentially having view of confidential information of computer screens.

I didn't think this would be that big of an issue, and thought it solved some issues. Apparently the public has voiced some complaints to our city manager and city recorder, who now question the validity of the tinting, them thinking it makes the dispatch center/police department "user unfriendly and cold".

My question: do any of you out there have similar circumstances where dispathcers are essentially looked upon and used as police reception, and do you have privacy tinting---how does it work for you as far as public perception, complaints, etc. Thanks very much.
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Re: Tinted Glass

Postby Redcard on Mon Nov 01, 2010 7:54 pm

Chief,

I worked at a small police department years ago on a contracted part-time basis (another story for another time). This department had their own dispatch center and records department, which also handled front desk duties. The room was long running east and west, with the records clerk on the east side by the front desk window, and the dispatcher on the far west side of the room. The sharp angle and thickness of the safety glass provided the perfect privacy of sensitive information from the public. The records computer sat in a corner and at an angle so citizens cannot see what is on the computer screen.

My recommendation is similar to how it was in this department. Slide your dispatch computer to a side of the room and at an angle where the public cannot see information they are not allowed to see. A second recommendation is to see if you can turn the work station around to where the back of the monitors and work station face the public. Again, the sensitive information is kept confidential on the computer screens and any information which you may have hanging on the monitors, workstation, or wall.

I would also stand up and advise your town manager that we are in a different day and age where it is hard to determine who may be coming into your department and what they could do with some of the information they may happen to see just hanging on the walls or on monitors. Confidentiality is very important and your citizens may not like it, but I am sure that if it is relayed that it is for their best interest as a community, most will give in and adjust to the tint.

If you have any questions or want to pick my brain further, please do not hesitate to contact me at leiton.powell@greeleypd.com.

Thanks and good luck!
Leiton Powell
LP Consulting, LLC
www.copowell.com
Management, Financial, and Photography Consulting Services
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Re: Tinted Glass

Postby the_albino_1 on Wed Nov 03, 2010 7:53 am

I work at a department of a city of about 15K. The dispatch center is in the police department with a window into the lobby. We too are basically dispatchers and receptionist for everyone in the station. We once had tinted windows and it was wonderful. It helped to keep our information confidential. (I can't tell you how often people lean into the window trying to look in at our computer monitors) And kept people from staring at us like fish in a fish bowl. Sadly, they had put the tinting on wrong and when they came to fix it certain people (without permission, who didn't care for the tinting, and also who weren't in charge) had it removed. Now administration refuses to put it back on.

In the end... I would say, I think it is a good idea to have tinted windows. Especially if you are unable to change the set up of your monitors or dispatch center to keep people from seeing the confidential information. Maybe, as a thought, you could extent an explanation to the public. Have it put in the local newspaper the reason why you put the tinting up... not to be unfriendly, but to keep their information safe.

Oh... failed to answer your question... haha! When we did have the tinting I had not heard of any complaints. People complain more now that it's gone. (They complain now because we turn the lights down low so it's easier for us to see & to keep the public from seeing what's happening in the dispatch center)
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Re: Tinted Glass

Postby Lifeguard911 on Wed Nov 03, 2010 10:26 am

Chief,

Add privacy screens to all of your computer monitors. Then angle the monitors so the screen blocks out anyone who is not directly in front of them from seeing what's on the screen.
Here is a link to one brand, but there are other places to look at.

http://www.ergoindemand.com/lcd-privacy-filters.htm

We found the problem with tinted glass, both in the jail and in dispatch is that when they are backlit by room lights, especially at night, you can see through most tinted windows so their effect is neglible.
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Re: Tinted Glass

Postby clee on Fri Nov 05, 2010 3:06 pm

Chief-

First, I would verify with those folks that told you someone expressed concern, that there were multiple people and not just one person who said something, or, even that they were trying to be passive aggressive in telling you that they don't like it. Have dealt with people in gov't, you know, probably better than anyone, how some people can be. Then I would explain to them the reasoning behind it and make sure that they are cool with it (after all, the City Manager is your boss, I assume). As long as the Manager says it can stay, I would ask them to get the name and number for anyone with a problem with it so that you can call them directly. Not to be confrontational, obviously, but, I think, that it would be good PR for them to hear directly from the Police Chief about their concern. And, again, as you know, there is probably only about 5% of any population that cares enough about the little things like that about any City/County gov't, so there would not be many calls for you to make; and after a while, I can't imagine that it would not just go away. And I really do think that that would be great PR.

I think that the tinting is important. Not only from a privacy issue (which is the only issue angle you have with people). But also, from a less official standpoint, there are things that Dispatchers should be able to do, WITHIN REASON, to relieve stress while cramped up in the Comm Center. Stress is, debatably, the number one issue facing overworked, underpaid, unequally recognized Dispatchers. And it is important for them to be allowed to get up and walk around and even laugh and joke around with co-workers while on duty (provided it doesn't interfere with their work) during the less busy times. And you don't want the public to see this, but it is very important for employee mental health and morale. If you have them in view of the public, there is, obviously, an expectation on them to promote professionalism, likely disallowing them to have any of these freedoms.

That last part is, obviously, my opinion. But, as a manager, I feel very strongly about creating a work environment for our Dispatchers that take as much stress off of them as possible.
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Re: Tinted Glass

Postby BrandiC on Wed Nov 10, 2010 8:22 pm

Although my small agency in SW Oregon is in the basement with no windows, our counterpart in city limits has a window to the lobby. Dispatchers there also act as records clerks and assist walk-ins. Their desks are angled so that people in the lobby can only see the back of the monitors, so there are no privacy issues. (it also means the dispatchers face the window, allowing them to see and acknowedge people who enter the lobby).
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