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County Takes Steps to Pursue Final Phase of Public Safety Communications Project

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County Takes Steps to Pursue Final Phase of Public Safety Communications Project

Monday, March 1, 2010
The County Public Safety Committee today indicated its support for proceeding toward implementing an integrated voice and data system, as the final phase of the County's Public Safety Communications System capital project, begun in 2003. The committee, by unanimous vote, gave its support to move ahead to a bidding process to replace the County's existing computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system, implement mobile data applications for emergency responders, and activate other voice and data components to achieve full integration through a standardized multi-agency records management system.

Director of Emergency Response Lee Shurtleff estimates the project could cost $1 million to $1.5 million. He noted that $1 million was reserved in the Public Safety Communications capital account to restore mobile data applications and upgrade the CAD system, a $700.000 capital account balance remains with another $500,000 in bonding authority, and that as much as $200,000 in Homeland Security funding may be available to devote to the project.

Shurtleff cautioned that failing to act now would be unwise--'the CAD system is outdated and cannot be upgraded; mobile data services, which existed for a time in a limited fashion, cannot be restored under the current system; and the existing records management system is outdated and incompatible. The comprehensive, integrated system, he said, will pay off in safety, performance, quality assurance, and effective and coordinated reporting and records management. The system is needed, he said, to effectively manage an ever-increasing scope of activity, including 911 calls that have more than tripled in the past decade and an average 160 incidents now dispatched each day.

The committee also heard the first phase of a report evaluating the County's Alternatives to Incarceration programs, updating an evaluation performed in 2003. Deana Bodner, program development specialist at the Department of Social Services, conducted the evaluation, as requested by the Public Safety Committee last year.

The first part of the evaluation focuses on program outcomes of participants in the Ithaca Community Treatment Court, Tompkins County Felony Treatment Court, and the Tompkins County Day Reporting program. While she cautioned the report does not contain specific measures of recidivism (since that data is not yet forthcoming from the State), the research does indicate, in part, that the local programs show strong participant retention rates that compare well with state and national standards. The research also points to significant gains achieved in education and employment, both factors, she told the committee, that have been shown to decrease recidivism. The committee will hear the next phase of Bodner's report, focusing on cost factors, next month.