System keeps track of public safety vehicles

ALBANY -- A new city service that maps and locates police and fire vehicles went online Tuesday, giving authorities a new level of capabilities and accountability when it comes to public safety.

The Automatic Vehicle Locator system, or AVL, cost roughly $500,000 to completely install and maintain, EMA Director and Albany Fire Chief James Carswell said.

Tuesday, Carswell and Mayor Willie Adams watched as 911 operators demonstrated the new equipment, which shows Albany Police Department cars and Albany Fire Department vehicles on a map of the city of Albany.

"This is a great tool to help us more efficiently respond to calls," Adams said. "Now, we can look up on the screen with just a glance and know where our units are and how far away they are from the scene and make sure the closest units are the ones responding."

As illustrated when two police cars were shown driving in Lee County, the system will also allow the administrators of both departments to insure that all units are where they should be at all times.

The cars shown during the mayor's visit Tuesday were later identified as those of detectives that were working a lead on an Albany case in Lee County.

The system also allows for enhanced officer safety, Adams said, by allowing dispatchers to know where officers if they are injured or can't respond by radio.

All city public safety vehicles have been equipped with the tracking devices, which can determine the location, speed, and other vehicle information. When the unit activates its lights and sirens, the display at 911 shows it by changing the color of the unit.