State and Local Government
Police, and Fire departments enter 21st century
By Sally Applegate/ Correspondent
It wasn’t so long ago that every Georgetown police officer who wanted access to the Internet could get it – by going home and using his own computer. It wasn’t available from the Public Safety Building that houses Georgetown’s police and fire departments. In a post 9/11 world, Police Chief James Mulligan was eager to get the station’s communications equipment in gear.
“When I first got here in the spring of 2002 we had no outside Internet capability,” said Chief Mulligan. “We had a lot of offers from volunteers to connect the station, and we appreciated those offers, but we were going to need someone available to oversee the new technology.”
Working with Town Administrator Steve Delaney and former Town Accountant Toni Mertz to locate a company to install and oversee the new equipment, Chief Mulligan picked Corporate IT Solutions of Norwood and its Vice President of Operations, Mark Tango, to install and oversee the new equipment. Tango oversees and maintains the equipment on an ongoing biweekly basis, helping to restore any accidentally deleted files.
“Mark has given us his professional advice,” said Mulligan. “He has delivered on every promise he’s made.”
One of the first things that happened after the station received its Internet connection was the receipt of a photo from Florida of a fugitive from justice.
“They called us and sent us a photo, and we went to the address given and apprehended him for them,” said Mulligan.
The new capabilities dovetail nicely with the station’s recently completed public safety room, said Mulligan. Rescued from claustrophobically hot squad rooms at the rear of the station, Georgetown’s full-time police officers now have their own desks in individual cubicles in the large new room.
Each desk sports a new computer with Internet access and e-mail, for a total of 12 new Dell flat-screen computers, including a few desks with computers for reserve officers to share. Each officer has his own telephone.
Mulligan said the new public safety room and state-of-the-art equipment was partially funded by $12,500 in Federal Homeland Security money, $20,000 set aside by Mertz for the start-up, and $6,000 from a grant.
“We’ve done this all inexpensively,” said Mulligan this week. “A New Hampshire company installed the fake oak floor, Middleton House of Corrections prisoners painted the walls, and Kay Ogden of Kay’s Interiors did the window dressings for us. The cubicles are all used, and have been refurbished.”
Tango says his company, Corporate IT Solutions, is a Microsoft Gold Partner and passed a number of competency tests in order to win that designation.
“Being a Microsoft Gold Partner enables us to give the town some real breaks on Microsoft services and products,” said Tango.
On the wall
The centerpiece of the new Emergency Operations Procedures Safety Room is a Dell 32-inch LCD monitor for television, computer images and training videos.
During an emergency such as last spring’s flooding, or during a security threat, all the town departments can gather in the recently completed room and coordinate the town’s response. They can watch local news on television while a laptop connected to a projector transmits a large image from a computer to the white wall next to the television.
During the May floods this spring, the town department heads from the fire, police, electric, highway and water departments utilized the room to make emergency decisions on road closings.
The computers are storing aerial views of the main intersections in Georgetown, and can show which ones need to blocked off. These aerial views can be projected onto the wall or shown though the Dell 32-inch monitor, said Tango.
Tango said that at his first meeting in Georgetown in May 2005 he wondered whether the project was even doable.
“I like to do this the right way or not at all,” said Tango.
Together with the town
Meeting with Delaney at Town Hall, he learned that Delaney thought it would be a good idea to do the town’s systems and the police systems together. Town Hall was disconnected from the system it shared with the Georgetown School Department, and Tango started by creating a foundation of a network and servers at Town Hall.
To connect the Internet services at Town Hall to the police department, Tango ordered aerial fiber-optic cable, the Georgetown Electric Department dug holes for the poles to hold the line, and it was run overhead from Town Hall to the Public Safety Building last fall.
Tango also upgraded the Fire Department’s computer system downstairs.
“Now every police officer and firefighter and every Town Hall employee are all on the same system,” said Tango. “Everything’s tied together. Now everyone can send e-mails to everyone else. No more cops having to use their own home e-mails. Each police officer can pull up maps with close-ups and overviews. They can even call up the heights of buildings and lengths of streets.”
Both Police Chief Mulligan and Fire Chief Mike Anderson can access their department’s computer records from home over a secure site link.
Tango said there are no disparate systems, and he has made a technology road map that will guide the town through year five of the new setup. He has installed centralized anti-virus, backup, file storage, email, firewalls and high speed Internet.
The large dell TV monitor can be connected through the laptop and shown on the wall, as can the computers. It has a VCR/DVD setup for PowerPoint presentations and training materials.
Tango says the police department’s “old, aging system” still needs upgrading and the town needs a more enhanced disaster recovery plan.
“Now the town is fully upgraded, with more upgrades planned for the future,” said Tango. “From what they came from to what they have today, we really did everything to Microsoft Best Practices. The town went from 1980s technology to 21st century technology in one year’s time.”