San Luis Obispo sheriff's dispatch system upgraded

clambert@thetribunenews.comApril 21, 2013 

Work is partly done on a project to install a new radio dispatch system at the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office.

The system will allow dispatchers to work off-site if necessary and enable some sheriff’s officials to use an application that can turn their smartphones into two-way radios.

“It gives us the portability our old system didn’t have,” said Cmdr. Aaron Nix, who is overseeing the project. The old dispatch system, he added, was “one catastrophic failure away from total shutdown.”

The new system will 

also allow sheriff’s dispatchers to communicate with other law enforcement agencies, including police departments, on their channels. That will improve communication during emergencies.

The new software-based communications system replaces equipment that is 14 years old. In 2010, the company that manufactured the dispatch console and hardware was dissolved, making it much more difficult to find replacement parts, according to a staff report that Sheriff Ian Parkinson prepared in December.

County supervisors agreed to spend $485,000 

on the new state-of-the-art dispatch system from defense and aerospace systems company Raytheon Co. using funds the Sheriff’s Office had left over from the 2011-12 fiscal year.

Software maintenance is expected to cost about $20,000 to $25,000 a year (about $20,000 was included in the initial $485,000 cost for maintenance).

Other federal law enforcement agencies use similar software. The Sheriff’s Office is the first public safety agency in California to have the system installed.

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