When a riot broke out at a prison in Hinton earlier this year, member of the Canadian County sheriff’s office responded.
Dispatchers, that night, knew exactly where every deputy was located because they were a dot on a screen.
The sheriff’s department was testing new technology from Norman-based GeoSafe.
The software — which runs on iPhones, iPads and laptop computers — can tell a dispatcher where an officer is located and whether he is on an active call.
Maj. John Bridges told county commissioners Monday the program is very beneficial.
Bridges said because the officers were all issued cellphones with software installed, dispatchers will know where they are located. That allows them to send the closest officer to a call.
It’s also a safety issue because while the officer might not know his exact location, the dispatchers will always know.
In addition, the phones also have software that allows them to be used as body cameras.
Besides the safety issue, Sheriff Chris West said the program also integrates with the agency’s record-keeping software, saving dispatchers time.
The Canadian County sheriff’s office recently completed a 90-day pilot of the program.
West said it was so successful that he is excited about signing a 1-year contract.
The department purchased 69 iPhone that will be used by each deputy.
They will log-on when they arrive for work and log-off when their shifts end.
In between, the phones will remain on.
“This is a user-friendly system,” West said.
It’s also fairly inexpensive, costing just $15,000.
Alex Lobodiak, business development manager for GeoSafe, said more than 100 departments across the state are using the system.
Piedmont and Calumet are tied to the sheriff’s office.
But several other counties, including Cleveland, Pottawotomie, Seminole, Grady, McClain and Murray counties are contracted.
Moore and Midwest City also are using the service.
“We have the software that allows rural areas to take advantage of our enterprise software, said Lobodiak.
“We want to be as efficient as we can with not only technology, but also with taxpayer money,” said West.
In the past, dispatchers were in the dark as to where patrol officers were, said West. They might have a general idea, but didn’t have an exact location. This system provides that.
Pointing a recent event, the sheriff’s department received a call about a reckless driver. In the past, dispatcher would placed a call to “any officer” in the vicinity.
With GeoSafe, the dispatcher could see all of the officers on duty. One was an uncover officer who was in an unmarked vehicle within a quarter mile of the driver. The closest patrol deputy was several miles away.
West said the undercover officer was contacted and made the stop without incident.
“They were able to get a hold of that deputy directly and he was able to make the stop until the other officers could arrive,” West said. “It is a more efficient use of personnel.”