Alternative solution for dispatch found

By: 
Alexis Barker

Alexis Barker

NLJ News Editor

 

As previously reported, the Newcastle City Council voted to rescind a motion to pay the county $294,592.50 for dispatch equipment and software from Motorola, called Spillman Flex. According to Police Chief Sam Keller, the decision was based on  an alternative route to resolve issues in the dispatch department with little additional cost to the city. 

Currently, Keller said, the Newcastle Police Department dispatch uses a Computer Information Systems Computer Aided Dispatch, also known as CAD, system. This system has been used since 2005 and is “basically at the end of life.”

To replace the CAD system, the city had agreed to partner with the county, agreeing to pay half of the
total costs. 

“When we initially started looking into it (updating the CAD system) about a year ago, we were unaware that CIS has a new updated program that they have been working on,” Keller said. “It is in beta testing right now, and they are expecting to roll it out in November.” 


The updated equipment, according to Keller, has many of the features, if not all, of the Motorola program. The cost to the city for the update to its current CAD system is nothing. 

“It is the same company we already have. … There are not many new dispatch centers being created across the country. … New customers are hard to find, so CIS, for existing members, is giving the new updated program for free,” Keller said. 

He noted that there would be an additional $2,000 a year for maintenance costs for the current number of terminals, including Upton and Weston County devices. Currently, the city pays $27,000 for maintenance. 

In addition to the updated CAD system, the city is also looking to replace radios for dispatch and officers. 

“The new program and radios should solve the issues we have been having,” Keller said. 

He said that because the cost is significantly less than what Motorola had quoted for similar programming, the city chose to opt for the cheaper option. 

“The city has to look at what is going to be best in the long run. They have to be economical and fiscally responsible,” Keller said. 

Since the Aug. 16 decision by the city to not move forward with the Motorola purchase with the county, the Board of Weston County Commissioners has held two executive sessions to discuss the CAD system. At press time, little was known about the nature of those discussions and the plan the county will take moving forward. 

Before the executive sessions, the commissioners had openly discussed frustrations with dispatch operations, suggesting that a joint powers board be formed to oversee dispatch. Disagreements between the the city and county over dispatch operations have occurred for years, as previously reported, although conversations to resolve the issues have ceased before resolutions were reached. 

Keller said that, as far as he is aware, the county will not be on the hook for the over $500,000 to Motorola for the CAD system because the contract was never signed. He noted that departments using the Newcastle Dispatch system, including the county, are invited to view a demonstration of the new CAD system. 

“It is so we can all see what has changed from then until now,” he said.

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