Work is partly done to install a new radio dispatch system at the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office, which will allow dispatchers to work at off-site locations if necessary and enable some sheriff’s officials to use an application to 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 dispatch system will also allow sheriff’s dispatchers to communicate with other law enforcement agencies, including local police departments, on their channels, which 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 Sheriff Ian Parkinson prepared in December.
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County supervisors agreed to spend $485,000 on the state-of-the-art dispatch system from defense and aerospace systems company Raytheon using leftover funds the Sheriff’s Office had 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).
Similar software is used by other federal law enforcement agencies. The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office is the first public safety agency in California to have the system installed.