Public safety agencies in Yakima County, Wash., have adopted new software from Spillman Technologies, allowing them to share data and fight crime across jurisdictional boundaries.
Yakima County deals with criminals who prey on migrant workers that harvest crops in the region, said Director of Yakima County Technology Services, George Helton. The area is also a target for drug trafficking and gang violence, he said, and tracking criminals as they move from city to city is a necessity.
"By making it possible for everyone to be on a shared system, we are able to share very, very critical bad-guy data among all these agencies," Helton said.
The Spillman software will be shared by members of the Yakima Consortium for Regional Public Safety, which includes the Yakima County Sheriff's Office, 14 police departments, 22 fire districts and municipal fire departments, as well as the Yakima County Department of Corrections and several dispatch centers.
The Toppenish and Sunnyside police departments went live with their Spillman system on Nov. 29. The Yakima, Selah, and Union Gap police departments, as well as all participating fire districts and fire departments, will go live with their Spillman system on Jan. 31, 2011. The Grandview, Granger, Harrah, Mabton, Moxee , Naches, Tieton, Wapato and Zillah Police Departments, the Yakima County Sheriff's Office, and the Yakima County Department of Corrections will go live with the Spillman system in the first half of 2011.
"This is the first time ever, that I know of, where we are going to have all of the law enforcement agencies in Yakima County on one system and able to share data," Helton said.
For years, agencies used software from different vendors, making it difficult for them to exchange data.
"Unfortunately, the criminals do not stop at county lines," said Rita DeBord, director of finance and technology for the city of Yakima. "It is extremely beneficial to know what was going on with that incident prior to when it came to your agency."
Once the agencies decided to become part of a single system, they embarked on what Helton called an "arduous examination process" of vendors that lasted three years. He said the agencies selected Spillman because it best met the agencies' goals of improving officer safety and efficiency while maximizing cost savings.
Another key selling point was ease-of-use, DeBord said, and the fact that Spillman will allow agencies to share information while still protecting sensitive data.
The Yakima County agencies are among 136 agencies in Washington using Spillman software.