What is a Computer-Aided Dispatch (CAD) System for Law Enforcement?
The use of computer-aided dispatch (CAD) systems in law enforcement are synonymous with modern policing and 911 dispatch software. Public safety agencies have come to rely on the interoperability of a robust CAD system as an integral part of their operations. These digital technologies have evolved significantly since police dispatching software consisted of a punch-card with handwritten notes.
As CAD systems software advances, it is able to provide far more functionality than simple record keeping. Today, CAD in law enforcement combines with records management systems, mobile data terminals, and external programs, to provide first responders and 911 dispatchers the most up-to-date tools to best serve their communities.
From the moment a 911 call is placed, the police CAD system is already compiling a host of essential information for the dispatcher and law enforcement units. Integrated mapping systems let 911 dispatchers know the location of a caller and whether the call was placed from a mobile phone or traditional landline. In the event a caller is unable to speak or does not know their location, 911 dispatch software utilizes a mapping feature that can be vital in determining where help is needed. Additionally, computer-aided dispatch systems have the ability to identify which law enforcement units are available to respond. When combined with mapping technology which pinpoints the location of available police units, both dispatchers and patrol supervisors can make crucial decisions about response assignments.
Computer-Aided Dispatch System for Law Enforcement Reduces Two-Way Radio Traffic
Another advantage of a CAD system in law enforcement is the reduction of transmissions through the traditional police radio. Any law enforcement officer can attest, one of the most dangerous situations they can encounter is the inability to call for help when they need it. When a police officer puts out a call for immediate back-up, he or she does not have time to wait for another unit to complete their non-emergency transmission. The use of law enforcement dispatch software as part of a CAD system will dramatically reduce unnecessary radio traffic. Patrol units can utilize the self-dispatching feature to assign themselves to calls for service, show that they have arrived on-scene, and note the appropriate clearance code. All of this can be done from their mobile data terminal, without using the two-way radio. By doing so, the radio is available for immediate use by units who are in need of back-up, reporting vital information that everyone on-duty needs to hear without delay, and other emergency transmissions.
For the Record, CAD in Law Enforcement Has You Covered
A computer-aided dispatch system for law enforcement serves as a permanent record of each activity during a given shift. When incorporated with an agency’s records management system, a CAD system for police organizations will have a host of benefits beyond traditional record keeping. 911 police dispatchers have the ability to instantly research an address to determine past incidents at that location. Further, knowledge of previous law enforcement contact with a particular subject can be paramount to law enforcement safety for responding units. Dispatch software can help keep first responders informed about prior encounters with a subject, including weapons, fleeing and eluding attempts, domestic or other types of violence, prior arrest history, and the status of any active arrest warrants.
The historical data within a CAD system is also a valuable tool for administrators when it comes to organizational planning. Budget proposals can be supported by statistics showing call volume and type, trends in crime rates, and workload changes using geospatial mapping. Further, when determining manpower needs, policy makers have a wealth of information at their disposal to help determine personnel assignments, specialty unit functions, and future equipment needs. A CAD system for law enforcement can go beyond conventional policing functions. When used as part of an agency’s overall records management system, computer-aided dispatch software can provide information about fleet services, finance/budgeting, human resources, and public
Regardless of Size, a CAD System for Law Enforcement is Right for Any Agency
Irrespective of jurisdictional range, a CAD system for law enforcement agencies is no longer a luxury, but an operational necessity. Technology allows for law enforcement dispatch software to be customized to the needs of an organization. Smaller agencies will not be required to pay for features they do not need, while larger departments can still depend on a CAD system that will handle their requirements. Options for customized use of CAD in law enforcement can include
data management of specialty functions such as criminal investigations, correctional facilities, special operations, courthouse security, civil process, and a variety of other agency components.
Many 911 dispatch centers require dispatching software that can work for multiple public safety agencies. A customized computer-aided dispatching system can address the needs of not only different law enforcement agencies, but fire services, EMS, flight medics, forestry/park rangers, marine units, aviation, and nearly any organization benefiting from the use of service dispatch software. All of these agencies can be served by a computer-aided dispatch system that is logging valuable information, in real time. This includes unit identifiers detailing who did what and when, dispatch operator identification to know who manually logged information, and a chronological record of each detail of a call for service. Whether an incident was over in a few minutes or lasted weeks, CAD software keeps track of it all and preserves incident data for on-demand availability.
The more tasks a CAD system in law enforcement can do, the more time law enforcement officers have to serve their community. Report writing is more efficient when data about a call for service is readily available. Investigators in the field or at their office increase their ability to solve crime when information about suspects, locations, and call history are easily accessed. Additionally, computer-aided dispatch software allows for emergency 911 operators to better manage incoming calls and get vital information to units in the field. Regardless of one’s function within a law enforcement agency, the benefits of computer-aided dispatch software stand to enhance performance and improve public service.