By Chris Eversole, Contributing Writer
The Mustang Police and Fire Departments are moving from an obsolete, paper-intensive system for tracking calls, writing tickets and keeping records to a GIS-based system that will include a website for the public to track crime reports.
The City Council unanimously approved on Tuesday a proposal from Zuercher Technologies for a $514,000 new public safety communications system – funded by a 1-cent sales tax that voters renewed in 2016.
Police Chief Robert Groseclose, who started 10 months ago, said the communication system was his priority when he started.
He appointed a committee, chaired by Police Cpl. Dylan Wilson, that included police officers, dispatchers and firefighters to find the best approach.
“The benefits of the new system are too many to list,” Groseclose said of the new system that will replace the current 17-year-old system that is so outdated that dispatchers handwrite on cards information about service calls.
With the new system, computers in police and fire units will tie together with dispatchers’ computers. Mustang’s 24 police officers will be able to print citations from a printer in their vehicles.
The system will pinpoint the location of callers, and it will map the quickest route for responding. “We’ll be able to respond more quickly, and our records will be much better,” Groseclose said. “The records will help with municipal court cases.”
The system will show the location of all units, facilitating calls for back-up, Zuercher said in its proposal.
In addition to using the crime-reporting website, people will be able to sign up for email crime alerts. They will able to submit crime tips by email.
Implementation will begin in September, and it will proceed through multiple steps before the system goes live in July of next year.
Committee members visited other Central Oklahoma communities that have upgraded their communications. “They took everything the other communities had learned into consideration,” the chief said.
The committee also checked out numerous public safety communications companies before settling on South Dakota-based Zuercher – which has provided software to 1,200 clients in 40 states over the past 14 years, but is new to Oklahoma.
The Zuercher proposal quoted Detective Robert Mason of the Lafourche Parish, Louisiana, Sheriff’s Office. “When we’ve needed something, we would send an email to support, and, quite honestly, we would receive a reply in two to three minutes most of the time,” he said.
The company has never lost a customer to a competitor, the committee report said. On other hand, some of the companies that submitted proposals had lost business to Zuercher.
“We’re all excited about moving forward on this huge project with the help of the committee,” Groseclose said. “We couldn’t afford not to do it right.”
Mayor Jay Adams praised the selection.
“Good hard work went into this,” he said. “This is something we’ve been waiting some time for,” he said.