Indianapolis pushing to implement a new tool to help police catch criminals faster

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As many as 50 regional police departments could soon be linked to a new tool that could help them detect violent criminals faster during routine patrols.

"We just crossed over to Hancock County," explained Lt. Loren Hansford of the Cumberland Police Department as he pointed out the county markers to 13 Investigates during a ride along Friday afternoon.

Cumberland Police patrol between Marion and Hancock Counties every day. It didn't take long before we heard dispatchers calling for units in its system.

"See, that's Hancock County. Their number system is different. You get to where you recognize voices," Hansford said after hearing the call.

When Cumberland Police officers get radio traffic from Hancock County, they can't hear about criminal activity coming their way from Marion County. That means calls can get delayed or lost.

"The bad guys in Indianapolis don't stop at the county line. I mean, they come out here and do some things and go back into Marion," said Lt Hansford.

For the first time, communication systems in Marion, Hendricks, Shelby and Boone Counties could all soon be connected to a regional dispatch along with Indiana State Police.

Hancock and Johnson Counties are still negotiating their participation.

It's all part of a $6 million Community Oriented Policing (COPS) grant from the federal government awarded to Indianapolis Public Safety.

"It would be a tremendous value," said Detective Vince Semona, also with the Cumberland Police Department.

"You can see [in real time] where all the officers that participate are [located]. You can send them a message. You might get somebody and see he has a case history in Beech Grove. I can message the guys that are working and give them some information that might be life-saving," Semona explained.

That's because part of the plan provides software to store regional records for all participating counties.

That means departments can share intelligence on everything from routine traffic stops to complex criminal investigations. For taxpayers, it translates to catching criminals.

"The more that we can communicate, the safer we can keep our community," added Semona.

The push is on for the city to get the system online. They have ten months to get it done. The grant expires in February 2014.

Tim Baughman, the Communications Chief at Public Safety told 13 Investigates more than 30 people are working daily on the launch of the new system.

Of the seven surrounding counties, only Hamilton and Morgan have declined to join the dispatch network that will also link with State Police records across Indiana.