The Orange County Sheriff's Office Communications Section operates one of the busiest 911 centers in the southeast United States. In 2019 Communications answered 686,193 emergency 911 calls and a similar number of non-emergency calls for a total of approximately 1.4 million calls. Over 99% of all 911 calls were answered within ten seconds. For the third consecutive year this set a new record and represented our best ever annual answering performance. Furthermore, on a monthly basis, December 2019 was the 53rd consecutive month that OCSO Communications has exceeded the state performance mandate.
The Communications Section represents the largest contingent of civilian employees in the Orange County Sheriff's Office. The majority of personnel are 911 Operators, Dispatchers and Teletype Operators. Personnel assigned to our training, technical, administration and False Alarm Reduction Unit (FARU) are equally important to our success. 2019 was an eventful year in which the section expanded to assume responsibility for the Court Communications Unit and provide dispatch services for the almost 200 deputies assigned to the Orange County Courthouse. The new fiscal year also brought ten new positions increasing the Communication’s Section’s total authorized staffing to 210 full-time employees.
The year was especially busy on the technology front. We became the first agency in the nation to implement the RapidSOS Portal; a system that allows personnel to simultaneously track the fifty most recent 911 calls made in Orange County utilizing device-based hybrid location technology. We also trained personnel to operate Starchase, a new solution that allows law enforcement to safely track stolen vehicles without engaging in pursuits. In July OCSO became the first agency in Florida to implement the RapidSOS Uber interface, allowing us to receive and track panic calls from distressed Uber passengers or drivers. We believe each of these innovations will significantly enhance the safety of our community.
Much of the summer was spent training personnel on our new Central Square/Tritech Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system. The new CAD is scheduled to be implemented in early 2020 replacing a 20-year old legacy system. The agency will simultaneously implement a new Records Management System and mobile computer interface.
In September the agency responded to Hurricane Dorian by cancelling leave and moving essential personnel to A/B shifts. Employees left their loved ones at home and stayed at work prepared to deal with the expected arrival of a potentially catastrophic hurricane. Fortunately for us we were spared this time.
In October we implemented Motorola’s WAVE product to provide broadband to radio integration. During a disaster this will allow us to operate virtual dispatch consoles on laptop computers from remote locations; a key element of our disaster recovery plan.
Throughout the fall we worked with each of Orange County’s public safety agencies to develop a plan to meet the requirements of House Bill 441 thereby improving our ability to immediately notify first responders of critical events, such as active shooter incidents, at locations throughout the county.
Finally, we continued to work with Orange County government on plans to build a new public safety communications center building. Thanks to the hard work of our personnel, 2019 was a highly productive year. We expect 2020 to be equally successful.