911 to track corrections officers’ whereabouts

By CANDY NEAL
cneal@dcherald.com

For the safety of field officers who visit the homes of offenders in the community corrections program, their whereabouts will be tracked by county 911.

This plan is being put in place, Jeana Mathies of 911 told the Dubois County Community Corrections Board Tuesday.

Field officers check to make sure offenders who are at home and are under a community corrections program are complying to the rules of their sentence.

The method community corrections had been using to track the officers’ whereabouts was to have them check in via text to Corrections Director Megan Durlauf, so that someone knew exactly where they were. If a field officer didn’t check in again within 15 minutes, Durlauf would text the officer to make sure he or she is safe.

The system required Durlauf to receive the text, which meant she had to monitor her phone for the texts from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The concern was that she would get busy with her job or other activities at home and miss a text or the followup.

That led to Durlauf requesting that officers be able to radio in to dispatch when they go on a house visit. The 911 department was concerned that such check-ins would possibly tie up an emergency line.

Mathies, who will become director of 911 in April, suggested in January that community corrections use radios to call a fellow officer in the community corrections’ control room. She also suggested getting 800-megahertz radios for the officers, which would have better coverage than the VHF radios officers currently have.

The officers in the community corrections’ control room are busy monitoring the people who come in and out of community corrections for meetings and programs, as well as leaving the room to pat down people who come and checking on those who stay overnight in work release. Because they are always moving around the facility, it would be difficult for them to adequately keep up with field officers’ check-in and follow-up calls on the radio, Durlauf explained Tuesday.

The new method will have officers checking in with 911 via radio on a non-emergency line.

Board member Jenny Lampert thanked 911 for taking the calls “to keep our officers safe.”

With that, the community corrections board agreed to purchase three 800-megahertz radios from Advanced Radio Communications of Huntingburg, which will cost about $5,000. Durlauf will ask the Dubois County Council to appropriate the funding from the corrections department’s community transition program fund.

Having the 800-megahertz radios will also give officers the capability to communicate directly with Jasper and state police officers. The corrections board told Durlauf to look into forming agreements with those agencies for communications.




More on DuboisCountyHerald.com