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Gunshot Detection System

The city of Minneapolis has installed a gunshot location system using technology from ShotSpotter Inc., hoping to reduce the number of incidents where officers are dispatched to investigate the sounds of gunfire, particularly in the 3rd Precinct. A company press release says it’s one of the first installations of the wireless version of the technology developed by the company, and can be linked to video cameras to show the area of the gunfire, and to taping systems to provide archival records. Learn more about ShotSpotter here.

Newspaper Profiles Dispatcher

The Sacramento (Calif.) Bee newspaper profiled dispatcher Beth Baron, who works the graveyard shift at the city’s police department, handling all types of calls. “This job, it really takes over your life,” Baron told the reporter. Read the story here (reg. required).

New Station Tour

The Portsmouth (NH) Herald newspaper takes readers on a tour of the new Rye Public Safety Building, describing how “secretary Harriet Goff” now has radio capabilities at her desk near the front entrance. Take the tour yourself here.

Canadian Radio Ills

Radio communications among officers in Châteauguay, a southern suburb of Montreal (Canada), are spotty, and the police officers’ union is complaining that it’s a safety hazard to its member. Union president François Lemay told a newspaper that the region-wide radio system does not provide adequate coverage, and seems to get worse during the period July-November. City officials say radio problems are rare, and that some radio improvements have been made. Read more about the problems here.

State Grants to Oregon Centers

Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski announced $7.8 million in federal homeland security grants to local comm centers, directed at upgrades to EOCs, software and communications systems. The money was allocated to specific agencies and projects, including installing mobile data systems, improving and adding radio towers, and installing emergency alerting systems. Download (pdf) a list of the grants here.

Chief Resigns–Meddling

The chief of the Smithville (Tenn.) police department has resigned, complaining that the town’s politicians were meddling in law enforcement matters, and made racial remarks to the Cuban-born chief. Agustin Clemente wrote a letter of resignation that outlined his complaints, including that mayor Taft Hendrixson, who also works as a 911 dispatcher, ” has placed calls from the dispatch center while working there to officers on the scene of a traffic stop or investigation in an attempt to sway the officers into not ticketing a violator due to the Mayor’s personal affiliation with the subject or family.” Hendrixson denied the former chief’s claims. Clemente is a former Miami (Fla.) police officer.

Intergraph Buy-Out

A pair of investment companies has agreed to purchase Intergraph Corp., parent of CAD developer Intergraph Public Safety, for a reported $1.3 billion. Intergraph also markets hardware and software for energy, chemical, shipbuilding and shipbuilding industries. Shares of Intergraph stock rose about 16% on the news Friday. Read the company’s press release here.

Dispatcher Arrested

Gloucester County (NJ 911 police dispatcher Jennifer Hoyle, 28, has been charged with official misconduct for allegedly altering CAD records. According to County Prosecutor Paul Colangelo, Hoyle allegedly was involved in a domestic dispute with a West Deptford Township police officer, and police responded to that incident. Hoyle later accessed the initial CAD record of the incident, an changed information, Colangelo said. She’s been a county dispatcher since April 2000 and faces unspecified prison time for the charge.

Comm Center Profiled

The TriValley Central Web site has posted a long profile of the Pinal County (Ariz.) Sheriff’s Office comm center, in which Sheriff Chriz Vasquez himself writes about the work that’s done and the skills required to be a dispatcher there. In his monthly piece Vasquez gives lots of statistics, but also praises the dispatchers for their work. He concludes, “To each of these dedicated communication specialists, I give my greatest respect and say thank you for their commitment to Pinal County and the people we serve.” Read the story here.

Delayed DUI Response

A Houston (Tex.) man had an accident and dialed 911 to report it, along with his observation that the other driver was grossly intoxicated. The man made several follow-up calls, but dispatchers continued to tell him that other calls were a priority. Finally, after waiting two hours the man decided to report the accident at a police sub-station, and watched the other driver stumble back into his car and drive off. A TV report of the incident finished with the information that Houston PD is “short staffed by about 600 officers.” Read the story here. The city is also debating a new no-pursuit policy, detailed in this story.

German Radio System Signed

German government officials have selected the contractors for a new digital radio system to be completed in 2010, and that will serve the national police and border guards. The $1.28 billion system was awarded to European Aeronautic, Defence & Space Co., Europe’s biggest aerospace company, and Siemens AG. Read more here.

New Radio Patch

A new radio patch now connects Boulder County (Colo.) agenies on VHF with surrounding agencies on 800 MHz trunked radio systems, allowing them to communicate during wide-scale incidents. The county says converting to their own 800 MHz system would cost from $12 million to $50 million, so they will improve the link between their own system and others. A news story says Motorola will give the county a “grant” of $693,732 to improve their towers. Read about the system here.

Consolidation Is Considered

The towns of Devens, Boxborough, Harvard and Littleton (Mass.) have been debating a consolidated dispatching operation for the past 18 months, and still can’t arrive at a consensus on how to proceed. Harvard officials are backing away from the plan, while Littleton officials are undecided. The remaining towns want to fund a study to determine costs, but that study itself would cost $60,000 to $80,000. A state study concluded that operations would be improved if the four towns jointly operated a public safety comm center, especially from increased staffing for each shift. Read more of the story here.

Can’t Count Frequencies

Apparently police in the tiny town of Wabash (Ind., pop. 11,743) are using audio surveillance to help their criminal investigations, and want to discourage criminals from finding the hidden devices. The city council has passed an ordinance making it illegal to possess unregistered radio frequency indicators, and sets fines of up to $7,000. Owners of such devices much register them with the police chief, officials said. The law was proposed by a drug task force member after an RF indicator was found during a drug arrest.

‘Power’ Struggle

The Cellular Telecommunications & Information Association (CTIA) has filed comments with the FCC on post-Katrina recommendations to improve communications, saying cellular carriers want to be part of the group that receives priority on power restoration after a natural disaster. Power company Southern Co. has said it opposes adding cellular tower sites to the priority list because it would complicate restoration. Read a story about the issue here.