How to buy police CAD
By Tim Dees
Selection of a computer aided dispatch (CAD) system may be the most critical administrative decision a police manager makes. Choose the wrong one, and you throw a monkey wrench into your department's efficiency. You will also spend a lot of money on something that doesn't work, and your superiors won't forget that.
CAD systems are difficult to evaluate, because their specs indicate they all perform the same tasks. Critical factors include scaling to your needs, compatibility with any existing records system, functionality with your state's switcher, software stability, and user interface. Here are three essential factors to consider when purchasing a CAD system.
1. Features: Modules
2. Features: Compatibility
Each state maintains a switcher through which passes all data traffic to the FBI's National Crime Information Center (NCIC) and the International Justice & Public Safety Network (also known as NLETS), and is integrated with any regional or state database or records system in place. The switchers are usually managed by your state's department of justice or state police. No two switchers are configured exactly the same way, so a CAD system that works splendidly in one state may not work in your state. Sometimes it can be useful to work with a vendor that has a proven, working system like the one you intend to buy in place in your state.
Tim Dees is a retired police officer and the former editor of two major law enforcement websites who writes and consults on technology applications in criminal justice. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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