The future for file sharing among police departments may not be that far away after all.
According to Buda Police Chief Bo Kidd, there is a possibility that “all agencies in Hays County will likely end up on a shared system.”
The idea was a result of the Buda City Council’s approval of an agreement earlier this month that allows Buda Police to share computer server space with the San Marcos Police Department.
According to an emailed interview with Kidd, the idea for the partnership began a few years ago when discussion began about moving all communications centers for fire, police and EMS under one roof.
Kidd said that if all law enforcement agencies moved to a single computer program, such as computer-aided design (CAD) and risk management solutions (RMS), there would be more continuity between departments and agencies than with the current system.
According to Kidd, the agreement with SMPD is only icing on a cake that is Proposition 1, which was approved by Hays County voters on Nov. 8.
“San Marcos has built a robust storage system with CIS and was willing to host the data for the other agencies wanting to go with CIS,” Kidd said.
San Marcos Police does not have a designated limit of space on its system and it will be upgraded as needed to accommodate the new influx of information to be stored from multiple agencies, according to Kidd.
Kidd said that Buda is equipped to store the amount of data it needs to store on its current servers, but he would prefer to store data collectively with other agencies to enhance interoperability.
“There are many areas that are doing this to achieve better interoperability and information sharing,” Kidd said.
One obvious benefit of storing data on SMPD’s servers, in Kidd’s opinion, is both departments will be able to view “read only” versions of the other departments files.
If Kidd needs information from SMPD on a suspect for a BPD case, he can access it on his own without having to make several phone calls and waiting for a fax with the information.
Kidd said officers’ body camera footage would continue to be stored in a cloud based storage system instead of being stored on SMPD’s server.
“We use a cloud based system for body cameras,” Kidd said.
When asked about the financial implications of the new agreement, Kidd said Buda would not experience a deficit in funds, but might even see a cost savings from the partnership.
“That is not what we set out to do. We simply wanted to improve efficiencies, interoperability and information sharing that will make all of the entities better,” Kidd said.