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Police dispatch system due for upgrade


Photo By: Town Crier file photo
Photo Town Crier File Photo

A dispatcher works the computers at the Los Altos Police Department. The squad could soon team with neighboring departments on dispatch services.

The police forces could soon join forces.

The Los Altos City Council was scheduled Tuesday (after the Town Crier’s press deadline) to review – and potentially approve – an agreement between Los Altos, Palo Alto and Mountain View to jointly purchase and share a computer-aided police dispatch system.

The agreement also includes the purchase of a shared police records management system and mobile applications for police cruisers.

If approved, the cities would purchase the systems from Intergraph Corp. for an estimated cost of $3.1 million. Los Altos’ portion of the total is $800,000, according to a city staff report.

According to Los Altos Police Chief Tuck Younis, the agreement among the three cities allows for the purchase of the “top tier” systems each municipality would otherwise struggle to fund alone.

The Los Altos Police Department’s current systems are 12 years old, have exceeded their service life and accrue more than $60,000 in annual maintenance costs, according to a staff report. Each city’s respective systems are also currently incompatible, Younis added.

Younis said it’s no accident that a shared-system discussion among the cities was first broached in 2007, when finances were leaner due to the economic downturn.

“It’s the direction government and public safety will be going in the future,” he said of the agreement, which has already been approved by the Palo Alto and Mountain View city councils. “Our three cities are well ahead of the curve regarding the consolidation of this project.”

The new systems are expected to enhance response capabilities and the ability to share information more efficiently during criminal investigations, among other improvements, Younis said.

Because of shared borders among the respective cities, he noted, the pooling of resources – both in the field and otherwise – is important to effectively maintain the safety of residents.

For instance, should a major disaster in Mountain View require the bulk of that city’s police staff, dispatch and calling-taking services could be temporarily switched to Los Altos and Palo Alto, Younis said. Those shared responsibilities help prevent a drop-off in service.

“For us it just makes sense,” he said of the shared systems. “(The cities) are all unique in how we do our jobs. But we do share borders, so we have to share resources.”

Younis added that Mountain View will serve as the lead agency in the agreement and will house all of the systems’ main equipment. Each city, however, will be responsible for maintaining its respective portions of the dispatch system.

The systems will be integrated in separate phases. If approved, the first phase of the agreement – the dispatch system – could be up and running by the spring of 2013, according to Younis.

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