Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

St. Johns Sheriff's Office Upgrades Its Technology

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

St. Johns Sheriff's Office Upgrades Its Technology

Article excerpt

Byline: Shawna Sundin, Times-Union staff writer

ST. AUGUSTINE -- In the rescue and law enforcement business, it's all about time and information. Yesterday, the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office demonstrated about $1.7 million in ways it's improving response times.

As part of a two-year-long technology upgrade at the Sheriff's Office, several new advances are in place, such as emergency calls from cell phones being traced to within about 140 yards of the caller's location.

And now when a person calls 911 from a land line, the dispatcher sees computer displays of the phone number and address of the call, a map of the exact location and information about previous incidences at the address, such as a deputy getting bitten by a dog.

Mobile computers also recently have been installed in 112 of about 150 patrol cars so deputies can check things such as a person's criminal record, vehicle registration and driver's license information from their cars. The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office went through a similar upgrade in August, said Maj. Frances Dunlap, commanding officer of the communications center there.

Wireless telephone carriers are under a federal mandate to upgrade their technology by 2006 so public safety agencies can get the exact location of 911 calls from cell phones. In turn, public safety agencies across the country also are upgrading their technology to locate cell phone calls.

The new technology the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office has will eventually allow it to locate a cell phone call to within 55 yards when the wireless carriers comply, said Sgt. Francescia Anderson, 911 coordinator for the Sheriff's Office.

Officials with the Jacksonville and Nassau County sheriff's offices said they too have the appropriate technology to locate cell phone calls and also are waiting for wireless companies to upgrade their technology. Clay County Sheriff's Office officials couldn't be reached for comment.

Millions of people use cell phones to call 911 for things such as car wrecks, including many tourists who pass through the area and may not be able to give their location, said Maj. …

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