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Travis County Sheriff’s Office helps to ensure officer safety with Google Maps Coordinate

Posted by Jim Sylvester, Travis County Sheriff’s Office

Editor's note: Today’s guest blogger is Jim Sylvester, Deputy Chief, Travis County Sheriff’s Office. When the Travis County Sheriff’s Office needed to track officer's positions and dispatch additional aid, they turned to Google Maps and Google Maps Coordinate. See what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.

I’ve spent 27 years working for the Travis County Sheriff’s Office in Austin, Texas, and I’m a third-generation law enforcement officer. Since I’ve been on the job, the county population has nearly tripled in size from about half a million to approximately 1.3 million citizens today. We consider ourselves a family at the Sheriff’s Office, and my paramount concern is keeping our law enforcement officers safe so they can protect the county’s citizens.

Until recently, we didn’t have technology that could give us the precise location of our deputies, which made it difficult to ensure their safety at all times. For instance, when deputies left their patrol cars to pursue a suspect on foot, we were not able to track their movements in real-time to dispatch additional assistance. For that reason, we decided to try Google Maps Coordinate.

It didn't take long for the team to pick it up: our deputies needed less than 10 minutes of instruction before they were ready to start using the product themselves. We put it to the test during the Formula One U.S. Grand Prix weekend in Austin in November 2012, which drew more than 120,000 attendees. With Google Maps Coordinate running across all our devices, our dispatchers were able to interface and organize the deputies throughout the event in real-time. Our personnel knew the exact locations of all available law enforcement resources in the area at any given moment.

What we saw at the Formula One event has prepared us for the future, and we’re making this a regular part of our toolset to fully maximize officer safety while serving our citizens. We plan to use this product at the Republic of Texas biker rally in Travis County this June, which will draw a huge crowd. We also plan to use it for more special events and also daily to keep deputies safe while they are on bike or foot patrols.

Thanks to Google Maps Coordinate, we feel much more in sync and aware of the situation at hand, and—above all—we have better ways to safeguard our law enforcement officers.