Computer System To Link Mississippi Emergency Personnel

When an emergency call comes in to police, every second counts. Information counts too. And more and more law enforcers count on computers to help them help the public.

"It helps us to know what we're getting into before we get there. Without that, our safety is in jeopardy and also the safety of the public," Hancock Co. Sheriff's Deputy Doug Ladner said.

Representatives of police, fire and sheriff's departments from across the state came to the coast this week to review equipment and systems that will allow them to better coordinate vital public safety information.

The goal of the Mississippi Automated System Project is to get that information into a database available to emergency responders at anytime.

"Knowing who's in a household when you go there. Does he have access to guns? What kind of information is needed for chemical spills? You've got it at your finger tips," Harrison County Sheriff George Payne said.

Nick Stohlman, Vice President of Mobile Data Systems, echoed his words.

"By looking at the map... they can reroute a car cause it's closer to that call. They can get a faster response time."

Officials say 12 of the 13 law enforcement agencies on the coast are using some form of the system or are in the process of getting it.

Julian Allen, Information System Director, told WLOX NEWS, "The goal would be to have the entire state of Mississippi on board this particular project. Then we'd be standing at our borders with these, plus waiting on the rest of the nation to plug in to where they can all look at Mississippi's information and we can all look at theirs."

Emergency personnel say that information will help keep everyone safe.

A $25 million federal grant has been made available to local agencies to cover most of the computer hardware. Sheriff Payne says the information sharing system is becoming a model for the rest of the nation.

by Al Showers