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How a university public safety department solved multiple challenges with an integrated software solution

The University of Rochester Department of Public Safety has improved dispatching, officer safety and property accountability with New World public safety

Sponsored by Tyler Technologies

By Laura Neitzel, P1 BrandFocus Staff

The University of Rochester in New York sprawls across four campuses, including a busy regional medical center. Serving a population of more than 12,000 students per day, as well as faculty, medical center staff, patients and visitors, presents unique challenges for the University’s public safety department in regard to call response, tracking property and keeping the busy heart of the community safe.

Photo/University of Rochester Dept. of Public Safety

The challenges facing university public safety departments  

Imagine having to respond to a call at any one of 40-plus buildings sharing the same address. When responding to an urgent call, new officers and even seasoned members of the University of Rochester Department of Public Safety sometimes resort to poring over a campus map to find an exact location among the tucked-away halls, annexes and quads.

Having to rely on time-consuming, manual processes also means that dispatchers often deployed officers to calls with few details of the situation. Officers often lacked an appropriate level of situational awareness, potentially exposing them to added danger.

“The officers in the field had just what was coming over the radio or over the phone with an investigator who was searching multiple databases or literally looking at the paper case file for background information,” said Records Lieutenant Jeremy Runion of the University of Rochester Department of Public Safety. “They had no way to quickly reference past calls or history of the location or even history of the people they were going to encounter when they got there.”

Another challenge for the department was that it had no efficient method for tracking and recording property in its property room. It wasn’t just evidence for an investigation – every day there would be a small mountain of lost backpacks and other personal effects left behind by students and visitors to the busy campus and medical center. Diligent clerks tried to keep up with a high volume of property, but had to record multiple properties one-by-one on paper and then input information into the computer, a duplicative, time-consuming, error-prone process.

Looking for a solution

Runion led the RFP process to search for a solution to streamline operations, reduce the burden of manual data entry and, most important, increase officer safety by giving them the critical information needed to respond quickly and with appropriate resources. Such a solution would:

  • Be customizable to map locations by building name or GPS position rather than address;
  • Enable dispatchers to interact with multiple jobs at once;
  • Increase officers’ situational awareness by surfacing relevant data in the field;
  • Quickly identify and deploy appropriate officers and resources to an incident response;
  • Streamline the recording of property;
  • Make reporting easier and yield more insight.

Lieutenant Runion was already somewhat familiar with Tyler Technologies’ New World public safety, an integrated suite of software solutions, because the City of Rochester Police Department uses it. When he looked into the feasibility of the New World public safety product suite, he knew he’d found a solution that met his requirements and solved these problems and more.

Because the individual products in the New World public safety product suite are fully and seamlessly integrated, solving one specific problem often has unexpected benefits in other areas.

Solving the mapping problem

The New World Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) software had the mapping features Runion was looking for. “We were able to configure it so it would work with our environment because our environment is a lot different than most police departments,” Runion said. “Now officers can just start typing in a common name like Hudson Hall on their mobile mapping device and it will point them right to where they need to go.”

Good data leads to better outcomes

Another benefit of New World CAD is that it instantly surfaces relevant data like location history and building hazards so the University of Rochester officers are better prepared for any situation.

“If our officers have subjects that are violent toward them, even if we’ve arrested them a week ago or even two days ago, we’d want to know that right away because it may justify how we conduct our next actions with them. Before the New World software, it was tougher to find those details out,” said Runion.

The University of Rochester Department of Public Safety is a hybrid department consisting of armed peace officers, unarmed peace officers, non-sworn public safety officers and civilian dispatchers. The dispatch software helps the agency dispatch the right resources to a given call. “It allows us to identify our officers by rank and level so we can call them onto the proper jobs, which is a difficult dynamic to navigate without the software,” said Runion.

Rapid chain of custody

The University of Rochester Department of Public Safety was able to streamline the input, recording and tracking of evidence and property using New World Mobile and New World Records Management. As soon as an officer starts entering the property description into the mobile software, it generates a paperless workflow that shares the information with the property clerks. “The software helps with that because we know what we’re searching for. We know we’re searching for found properties or evidence and we also know that we’re looking for certain dispositions. If it was put into a report we’ll know,” Runion said.

Simplified reporting that yields insight

One of Runion’s favorite things about the New World solution is that it simplifies tasks. A task that may have taken 10 steps before implementation now may take only 3 or 4 steps. Using prebuilt report forms in New World Decision Support, Runion generates daily reports that, for instance, break down all police activity for the day. “It’s all prebuilt with the fields I need. Two minutes later I have a report that’s ready to go and I send it out. In the past, that would’ve taken us 45 minutes to build that,” he said.

New World Decision Support also helps his agency analyze crime data over various time periods and track and analyze call volume and response times to identify crime hotspots or trends and deploy officers accordingly. “With the software we were able to notice a trend in larcenies in the medical center area. It’ll stick out like a sore thumb if you look at the data every day. Based on the trends, our officers figured out when and where the crimes were occurring, so they were on alert and able to apprehend the suspect,” he said.

From dispatchers to officers to property clerks, New World public safety helps the University of Rochester Police Department deploy their units quickly and more efficiently with better information. “We have to make sure that students and the community are safe at all times,” said Runion. “Using this software allows us to accurately dispatch our units to the locations and collect information that will help the responding officers. It basically keeps everybody updated to what’s going on, because you never know what you’re going to encounter when you get there.”

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