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DPS Emergency Communications Center Joins Onondaga County Dispatch System
The Department of Public Safety (DPS) has made the transition to a new dispatch system, which will increase interoperability between the department and other emergency responders in Onondaga County.
The new system, known as Hexagon, ties DPS operations into the Onondaga County computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system and allows the department to utilize the same mobile software as other local law enforcement agencies. The transition to the new system also allows DPS to make use of the same police records management system as its local counterparts, which stores all incident-related information in one place.
“Hexagon allows for better coordination with other agencies surrounding the University, including the Syracuse Police Department (SPD), SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry University Police Department, and the New York State University Police at Upstate, all of whom utilize the system in their vehicles,” says DPS Deputy Chief John Sardino.
With the implementation of Hexagon at the department’s emergency communications center (ECC), an on-campus emergency call placed to the Onondaga County 911 Center or the DPS ECC will alert all required first responders, including police, fire and medical. This eliminates delays in response, as DPS officers can see in real time what calls SPD is responding to around campus. This will allow DPS officers to act proactively, rather than waiting for official notification or hearing the call over the radio by chance.
“This new system was a long time coming,” says Joseph Hernon, director of emergency management. Hernon oversees the University’s emergency communications center and pushed for the implementation of the new system at DPS. “We have been working closely with Onondaga County for some time in order to implement a new system that would work for everyone,” Hernon says.
Several years ago, DPS leadership approached Onondaga County to start exploring the concept of sharing a CAD system. In 2018, a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the Onondaga County Department of Emergency Communications and the DPS ECC was established. To oversee the transition to the new system, DPS hired a project manager with prior experience working at the Onondaga County 911 Center. The MOU was finalized in early 2020, which allowed the installation of Hexagon to move forward.
The Onondaga County 911 Center, Onondaga County Information Technology, Syracuse University Administrative Computing Services, Information Technology Services, DPS and the Video Access Security Technology Team collaborated to ensure network connectivity between the University and the county, along with preparing all data needed for the transition to the new system.
What is CAD?
Computer-aided dispatch (CAD) is a system utilized by dispatchers and 911 operators to prioritize and record incident calls, identify the status and location of responders in the field, and effectively dispatch responder personnel.
What training was needed?
According to Hernon, the DPS ECC dispatch staff completed 32 hours of training on the new system and all DPS peace officers completed two hours of training. Additional one-on-one training support was provided to anyone who felt they needed the additional instruction.
“We set up a training room and went through real-life scenarios to test out the system and prepare our staff for this transition,” Hernon says.
How will the University community be affected?
The University community will not notice a change to the services provided by DPS due to the transition. Over time, the new CAD system will give DPS greater insight into what incidents occur in the neighborhoods surrounding the University. In addition, it will allow for improved response to incidents that are called into the Onondaga County 911 Center.