Coast Law Enforcement The Envy Of The State - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

06/30/04

Coast Law Enforcement The Envy Of The State

Coast police officers are becoming the envy of law enforcement agencies across the state. The Mississippi Automated System Project gives coast dispatchers, police officers, and firefighters access to information from each others departments. Long Beach and Harrison County were the first to sign on earlier this month.

Life just got a lot easier for Harrison County dispatchers. Keeping track of calls used to involve filling out cards, sometimes as many as 150 a night.

As of June 8th, they can do background checks, track down an officer and find directions all at the click of a few buttons. Soon that same technology will be in all three coastal counties.

Hancock County Sheriff Steve Garber said, "It pulls up information from previous calls. There's a of information that is going to be stored there, and I think that is going to key for officer safety as well as enhancing the response."

On Wednesday, Senator Thad Cochran said state district attorney offices also want to be part of the information sharing system.

"There are district attorney offices, 22 in all, that have expressed interest in going on the system in a case management software program. So we are very excited about the initial progress of this program," said Cochran.

Coast emergency responders are elated to have left the dark ages for the kind innovative technology other departments wish they had.

"We always look like Mississippi always gets put on the back burner," said Garber. "It's very exciting to be out in the front. Through the National Sheriff's Association, they are looking at this program as possibly a pilot program for the whole United States and that's very exciting."

The system also tells a dispatcher instantly is someone is wanted or if there's been a bank robbery in a nearby county.

As more law enforcers access this information sharing system, many people believe criminals will have a tougher time finding places to hide.

Julian Allen of the Harrison County Sheriff's Department said, "You know the bad guys. They like to go hang out in these small communities to kind of be low key. There's a lot of vital information in those jurisdictions."

InterAct, the company that invented the software for the Automated System project, is using the Gulf Coast as a model for the technology.

All the Hancock County emergency services are slated to go on line in the next month.

by Danielle Thomas

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