Author: Don Obrien

Information integration | Texarkana and Bowie County law enforcement investing in communications system that will finally let them ‘talk to each other’

TEXARKANA — The purchase of a new dispatch, records and jail management computer systems for the Bi-State Justice Building should streamline information for law enforcement.

Both Texarkanas and Bowie County are buying the system jointly. The goal is to integrate functions among police and the Sheriff’s Office in the Bi-state Justice Building.

The Texas-side agencies have used one system, Texarkana Arkansas Police Department uses another, and all systems in use are nearing or beyond their expected functional lifespans, said Doug Avery with the TAPD’s Central Records and Communications Department.

“We all need to operate on one system,” Avery said. “We have had different things for records and reports and those two systems don’t talk to each other,” Avery said. “We (Arkansas) might deal with somebody and Texas officers can’t see the information we have on that person. This will just work better. Criminals don’t abide by the state line.”

The new system is a Motorola public safety system. The multi-government Bi-state Committee has been working toward the change for months.

The Motorola systems to be purchased are among the best available and will be fully compatible with recently purchased new Motorola radios used by TAPD, Avery said. Such a “vetted” system is especially important because, with the exception of New Boston, Texas, Bi-state dispatchers handle every emergency call from the Texarkana, Arkansas, city limits to the borders of Bowie County, Texas.

When a dispatcher enters a name in the system, the officer will be able to see other reports, tickets, addresses, or crimes associated with the person.

“It shows crimes committed by you or crimes committed against you” Avery said.

“The new system will show everything and will be very handy in investigations. It’s a better tracking system,” he said. “We need one system so when someone enters a suspect’s or victim’s name, it starts building a history.”

Local agencies have looked into the system before but it has been very costly.

Total cost for the new systems is $2.5 million over five years paid out of the Central Records and Communications budget, to which both Texarkanas and Bowie County, Texas, each contribute a third. Funds budgeted in previous years but not yet spent will cover $1.2 million to $1.3 million of the cost, Avery said. In addition, about $160,000 spent per year to maintain the older systems will become available.

The item will also go before the Texarkana Texas City Council and the Bowie County Commissioners Court.

Once it has been endorsed by all three agencies, then the contract will be sent in.

It could still be 14 to 16 months before the system is ready to use.

“It should be live in 2023, it takes a good while to build the program from the ground up for three agencies,” Avery said.

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Oliver Bolt

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