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2-Day Search for 911 Call

Benton County (Ark.) dispatcher Toni Brandon fielded a wireless E911 call where a child’s voice said, “He shot me.” The call was disconnected, and a call back went unanswered. Dispatcher Tammy Rogers tracked the phone down to a pre-paid T-Mobile handset purchased by someone in Texas. She also learned from the company the area from which the call was made. But she didn’t find any matching incidents reported to police or fire in that area. She spent the next two days working on the call in between other incidents. On the second day T-Mobile provided phone numbers that the handset had called, and Rogers began dialing some of them. She eventually reached the phone owner’s cousin, who located the owner in Rogers (Ark.). A call there determined that the handset had been to her kids to play with, and the 911 call had been just a prank. Read the full store here.

Rusty Screws = Static?

Believe it or not, technicians have traced static on the Howard County (Ind.) public safety radio system to rusty screws on a antena tower. The tower is on the roof of a downtown Kokomo office building, and the radio problems have prompted the county commissioners to consider moving the tower. Commissioner Brad Bagwell told a reporter, “The more oxidation that takes place, the greater the interference. The tower needs to be cleaned.” A new tower would also help eliminate dead spots that field units are experiencing around the county.

Verizon Public Safety Radio?

The RCR Wireless News Web site reports that Verizon Wireless has a plan to build a nationwide broadband public-safety network using 24 MHz of spectrum in the 700 MHz band allocated to public safety back in 1997. Under the plan, 12 MHz of the allocation would be used to create the system, which would be augmented by Verizon’s existing network. The plan is similar to one proposed by Sprint Nextel under the Cyren Call program. Sources told RCR that Verizon has met with APCO officials to discuss their plan, although association officials declined comment. Read the story here.

Comm Center Shelter?

Does your comm center need some weather protection? The Home Depot is test-selling in-house storm shelters that feature a Kevlar design and a design to withstand a 250 mph wind. There are two sizes initially: 4’x6′ and 4’x8′ that range from $6,000 to $10,000. The shelters are being sold only in one Texas store, but should be available in more stores along the hurricane and tornado belt in the coming months.

Dispute Over Center

The West Virginia State Police say they don’t intend to occupy space reserved for them inside the Kanawa County Metro 911 building in Charleston, two years after officials agreed to consolidate communciations within the $14 million building. A new state police superintendent took over 8 months after the agreement was reached, and Col. Dave Lemmon told a reporter, “If anybody decided to move it out there, I don’t know whose decision that was. It wasn’t mine. We’re here, and we plan on staying here.” He says his dispatchers will stay at a newly-renovated center in South Charleston. “The situation we have now works for us and I think it’s working for them,” he said. Read more about the situation here.

Radio Wires Cause Fire

A battery charger for a police radio caught fire during a hurricane-caused power outage in the town hall of Smithfield (Virg., pop. 6,324), causing damage that has closed the second floor of buildingl. The fire caused smoke and water damage that destroyed the police department’s computers, servers and associated software, although news reports didn’t indicate exactly what applications were unavailable. Police officials said they’d be booking prisoners at the Wight Sheriff’s Department until the fire damage is repaired.


The Minnesota Department of Transportation has finished a federally-funded field test of a system to automatically routes 911 calls initiated by telematics devices to the appropriate PSAP, something that is called TSP Emergency Call Routing Service, or the acronym “TSPECRS.” The testing was performed by two consulting companies under contract to the U.S. Department of Transportation, which has now issued a report on the tests. If you can get beyond the acronyms, read the complex work they performed here.

Wireless Data System

Providence (RI) mayor David N. Cicilline unveiled the city’s new, $2.3 million wireless data system, which gives the city’s police and fire departments broadband capabilities to share data while in the field. The Motorola-built system was funded with federal grants, and uses mesh network technology to link mobile units and the police headquarters. Right now 24 police cars and three fire department command vehicles are linked to the network, allowing them to download video, mugshots, fingerprints and other high-bandwidth data.

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.