STOUGHTON POLICE LEAD WITH TECHNOLOGY:
Stoughton Police Chief Paul Shastany and Deputy Police Chief Robert Devine are proud of the Department’s early use of technology. About Town sat with both on Tuesday to discuss it.
The Stoughton Police Department was the first department in the world to use QR codes on their cruisers, which allowed smart phone users to be able to go directly to the SPD web site (one department in England had previously used QR codes on some signs for advisories, but Stoughton was first for cruisers).
Now, the Stoughton Police Department - and the Stoughton School System - are about to embark on the next journey of effective technology designed for the safety of residents, school children, and staff, Smart911.
According to its website, "Smart911 allows citizens to proactively provide details on their family and their home that 9-1-1 may need in order to send help in the event of an emergency."
"Smart911 is a free service that allows citizens across the U.S. to create a Safety Profile for their household that includes any information they want 9-1-1 to have in the event of an emergency," the Smart911 website states. "Then, when anyone in that household dials 9-1-1 from a phone associated with their Safety Profile, their profile is immediately displayed to the 9-1-1 call taker providing additional information that can be used to facilitate the proper response to the proper location. At a time when seconds count, being able to provide 9-1-1 with all details that could impact response the second an emergency call is placed could be the difference between life and death."
Shastany said, "It gives a big advantage for students and their parents. It gives students, teachers, administrators and staff a direct link to the police department through their cell phones. Any concerns for safety would appear on the computer display of our dispatchers.”
For instance, if a staff member texted “active shooter,” Devine explained, “the dispatcher would be able to verify the caller’s identity, activate their exact location in the school building, and could text with that individual. It would give us more information that we could ever have hoped to have obtained under the current system.”
The current system sends all 9-1-1 cell phone calls to the State Police dispatchers. Under the Smart 9-1-1, calls are directed to the exact jurisdiction from where the call is being made.
The police, through this story, hope to get people to register at www.smart911.com. The more residents, business owners, students and school staff that register, the more effective the system is.
Devine said that individuals can note their medical conditions, like diabetes or Parkinson’s, any allergies, pets, or other details that could help first responders be more effective.
The system uses Google Maps to pinpoint coordination inside a building. The program pops up as incidents are reported, so dispatchers know exactly where calls come from. For instance, if a call came from the high school, the dispatcher would see on his or her screen the exact location in the building where the caller was.
Smart911 comes at a cost of $14,000 for the first year. It was not available in the police department budget, but Shastany said that “through the generosity of Dr. [Marguerite] Rizzi and the School Department, we will be able to implement the program."
One result of the Smart 9-1-1 program would be that more calls would come into the dispatchers at both the police and fire departments. Chief Shastany said that his department is preparing for this.
“We’re hoping by the end of September to get the hardware upgrade that would enable us to use the new system. It has been approved by the Town Manager. The next generation 9-1-1 is upon us. We’re planning on consolidating with five central dispatchers. We’re working with the HR department to modify current contracts to allow us to implement this system. Everyone will need extra training, and there will be a necessary construction build out. I don’t want police officers in dispatch when I need them on the road.”
Shastany said that he is working on saving money in his budget to try to do some of these things. “We’re trying to use existing resources, and save on things like subscriptions. We’ve tried to migrate over to the software. We’re going to be more and more an electronic department.”
In addition, Shastany said, “This program lends itself to the idea of a combined public safety building. This is something we will need in the future, but I’m focused on our immediate needs. The process for our current building to evaluate future needs was not done here.”
Devine said that in many ways the department has already gone in that digital direction. “Currently, using CrimeReports.com, residents can check the town neighborhood by neighborhood to seek out what they feel may be the safest areas."
Consequently, he continued, "we’ll use that same information to determine patrols, placement of officers, and where to send them shift by shift. There will also be civilian modules for live apps for smart phones. They’ll be able to alert you if something happens in an area you specify.”
The Department is also active on Facebook and Twitter, interacting with residents and posting updates on those social media platforms.
As for Smart911, both Shastany and Devine urge residents to set up a profile at www.smart911.com.
“All the information, including photos, gets sent to our dispatch. It allows first responders to know your medical issues, if you have a pet, etc. And, it’s for your protection. For instance, if your profile indicates you have a restraining order out, and specifies the model of car and license plate, and a photo of the individual, even if you call 9-1-1 and hang up, our officers would get a screen shot of the information, and our officers would be able to check for the vehicle. Circumstances could justify entry.”
It should be noted that any data submitted to the smart911.com website is confidential and remains private. The police cannot access any of this information, unless you call 9-1-1.