Sheriff adds technology to improve deputy safety

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Canadian County sheriff Dispatch Supervisor Cyndie Bowers, left, and dispatcher Cindy White take calls while Ross Reuter, chief deputy of administration, points to the location of deputies who are now tracked by Geo Safe software. (Photo by Mindy Ragan Wood)

By Mindy Ragan Wood, Staff Writer – Canadian County Commissioners approved a software acquisition contract Monday for the sheriff’s department to enhance dispatch communications and improve deputy safety.

Geo Safe is a software that tracks deputy locations and allows dispatchers to know at a glance where any deputy is located while on duty. The software uses GPS tracking and color codes on the screen so dispatch can see if a deputy is in service on a call or on their way to a call.

“In the past, dispatch got a call for service and they didn’t know for sure who was where,” Sheriff Chris West said. “They can look up at the screen and see who’s where, who’s busy, and see who is closer to other units.”
Unlike tracking devices or software programs that are attached to the deputy’s vehicle, Geo Safe is an app on the deputy’s cell phone.
“We’re tracking the deputy, not the unit (vehicle),” West said.
Knowing where a deputy is on foot is helpful when serving warrants or when the deputy becomes involved in a foot pursuit. There is also a satellite feature, which allows the viewer to see in greater detail the location of a user and their direction in closer proximity to a building.
“If a suspect has gone out the back door, we can deploy resources to respond there, rather than setting up a large perimeter,” West said. “It increases their safety and the safety of the public.”
There is potential to explore even more uses with the software, including “layering” the maps to display other law enforcement and first responders who use the same technology. Dispatch could see where municipal law enforcement, firefighters, and EMS are on the map to enhance coordinated responses.
“This is technology that takes us to another level and the cost is nominal,” West said.
The cost of the contract with Geo Safe is $15,000 a year. Funds from sheriff fees will pay for the service.
“The 90-day trial was running out,” West said. “We decided to use to Verizon Wireless because iPhones were included in the deal with Verizon. We have 69 iPhones with the software.”

Geo Safe is also encrypted using SSL security features. Deputies are required to log in with a unique login and password.