Choosing a company to provide consoles requires research and planning.
State of the Art: Dispatch Furnishings
By Kathy Marks
One of the most important areas inside a department is the dispatch area. Citizen concerns and complaints are addressed there, and it is where officers’ safety is monitored. This is also often an area that binds together other parts of the department. Nearly everyone in the department contacts this area several times during their shifts. These employees, whether sworn officers or civilians, are vital to the ongoing functions of the department.
Appropriate personal and file storage for the dispatch area and the rest of the office provides a cleaner, less cluttered area, provides for security, and allows for easier access to files. Today’s office equipment is intended to take care of these needs and is geared to specific task accomplishments.
Dispatch Consoles and Furniture
Dispatch and work consoles are important in reducing work place injuries such as repetitive stress injuries and improving productivity. Choosing a company to provide consoles often requires research and planning. There are many companies that provide communications consoles and it is important to choose a company that can provide products addressing the specific needs of each department.
Dispatch Products Inc.
Joseph E. Mangas, Director of Communications for the Hamilton County (Ind.) Public Safety Communications Department, manages a communications center that currently dispatches for six law enforcement agencies and seven fire/EMS agencies. They have 27 full-time communications officers and 10–15 part-time officers.
Hamilton County is one of the fastest growing counties in the nation. The City of Noblesville Communications Center consolidated with them in February 2011 and their new center was designed to meet the needs of serving multiple communications’ needs. They upgraded from a nine-console operation to a 24-position center. They wanted a state-of-the-art center that would complement their community, benefit public safety, and enhance employee satisfaction. They chose a company, that while not the low bidder, met their needed specifications and as a bonus, was located in Indiana.
Mangas found that Dispatch Products Inc. was “great to work with and provided them with a product custom built to meet their needs, thinking outside the box and not developing the normal ‘cookie cutter’ console.” Mangas stated the most important considerations for his department in choosing consoles and other furnishings were durability, design, and workspace.
Dispatch Products gave them several options for computer monitoring placement and overall workspace. He said Dispatch Products was current with the latest news and trends in 9-1-1 consoles. Mangas had other staff members involved as part of the decision making process at all the different levels. Since Mangas had experienced poor customer service with a prior console product, he was aware of the importance of customer service and support and made sure he dealt with a vendor who had a good reputation for customer service.
Communications Director Mangas pointed out the importance of purchasing appropriate consoles and stated, “You cannot rush the decision making process with consoles. It is the number-one major purchase for the 9-1-1 Center. The industry is flooded with companies manufacturing consoles, so setting aside the time to look is very important.”
Mangas stressed the importance of prior planning for a communications center. He said you must know what you want before you meet with vendors. He suggested having a team ready to meet with the vendors to express ideas and thoughts. He said it is important to make sure your own people are on the same page before that meeting to make the overall process move faster.
Mangas believes in opening up all possible ideas for the communications center with the vendors “because if you know what you need and share it with the vendors, the industry is so driven by technology that many things are possible, and some can be inexpensive.” Because innovations the vendor makes for one department might be useful for other centers, they are often willing to get creative and come up with ways to accomplish what is requested.
Hamilton County also had some additional cabinetry built at their communications center, and Dispatch Products manufactured those as well, cosmetically matching the consoles in the Center. Dispatch Products proved they could think outside the box and apply that thought process to their product.
Russ Bassett: On Time and on the Mark
Russ Bassett also provides consoles for law enforcement. From a single position configuration to the most advanced dispatch center, they can configure and design console furniture for any communications center that best suits their unique operational requirements. Their desienceConsoles use a versatile design, allowing for custom configurations to meet the varied needs of both personnel and technology and the room design layouts based on their expertise. In addition, the customer’s input allows for complete visualization, understanding and approval of the proposed system before it is installed.
Russ Bassett’s desienceConsoles sit-stand consoles deliver durability, ergonomics and technology integration. The desienceConsoles single-work surface sit-stand consoles have integrated CPU boxes and filing pedestal and offer the industry’s only slat-wall mounting area for monitors and accessories, maximizing usable workspace. Their desienceConsoles are equipped with Anti-Collision Technology at all pinch points on the console to protect equipment, users, and furniture, thus reducing work place injuries.
John Stuermer, Executive Director of the Hamilton County (Chattanooga, Tenn.) Communication Center was very pleased with Russ Bassett’s work in helping them transition from their old system to the new multi-agency center. They had been planning for several years to have several agencies unified in a single system. They knew they would have to completely redo their center and first met a Russ Bassett representative at a conference and were impressed by the quality of their work.
One vital consideration for renovating the communications center was the timeline because their communications center could not operate solely on a backup system for any length of time and the move had to be done quickly. Stuermer’s department met with a large airline for which Russ Bassett had renovated a much larger system and kept with a strict timeline for those renovations. “Russ Bassett stood above other vendors for their willingness to work with us and work with what we told them we needed, rather than them telling us what we needed,” Stuermer reported.
Stuermer stated Russ Bassett was very professional and great about customizing the consoles, making it more cost effective for Hamilton County because they were offering the center what they needed, rather than a cookie cutter approach.
Hamilton County utilizes the Sit-Stand consoles and the whole deck goes up to whatever position the employee wants to use. Russ Bassett also installed an ADA-compliant handicapped accessible console, paying attention to having the buttons in positions comfortable and user friendly for employees in wheelchairs. Russ Bassett’s equipment has worked well for the center, the support department is very responsive, and Stuermer said he wishes other vendors could provide such a positive experience.
Angie Conley, Communications Manager for the Gwinnett County Police Department in Lawrenceville, Ga., stated they wanted console furniture that was as ergonomically correct as possible because like most 9-1-1 centers, they had a wide range of body sizes among their employees. They also had employees with ADA issues that needed to be accommodated, making ergonomically correctness their top priority.
After the consideration of ergonomics, their next considerations were the reputation of the vendor and reasonable pricing. “We wanted a professional and reliable vendor that could be depended upon to stand behind their product even after the warranty period had expired. Then finally, being a county government, price was a deciding factor. Watson met all of our requirements,” she said.
Gwinnett County purchased the Synergy line of consoles, adjoining work surfaces, file storage and center resource storage carousels from Watson. Conley reported that while most of the features were available from other vendors, they liked the total package provided by Watson.
They purchased the center lift consoles with a very advanced wire management system and “that is critical, in that when you have work surfaces that raise and lower, you must guard against cables (mouse, keyboard, power and monitor cables) getting snagged or ripped out,” Conley elaborated.
She listed the versatility of their equipment: a main work surface that raises / lowers; a keyboard work surface that raises / lowers / tilts independently from the main work surface; a monitor stand that can be adjusted forward or backward; monitor mounts that allow for multiple monitors and a wide range of monitor adjustments. She said they also have the personal comfort system (heated footrest, fans, etc.) as well as task lighting.
Conley stated they take the same care in purchasing seating for the 9-1-1 center and look for one that has a good warranty and accommodates a variety of weights and has a lot of adjustments for accommodating different body sizes. She said they look particularly for such things as armrests that adjust from side to side as well as up and down, tilting seats, adjustable seat depth, adjustable backs with lumbar support, headrests, and other comfort and ergonomic adjustments.
Modern ergonomically correct seating and work stations have come a long way. Joel Vento of Concept Seating explained correct seating can adjust to comfort levels for people of varying sizes. He said their seating adjusts to allow everyone from someone of small stature and weight to someone well over 6 feet tall and over 300 pounds to enjoy an even weight distribution and oxygenation to make their shift more productive and comfortable. Their seating adjusts to fit from 3–97 percent of the norm, whereas most seating will only adjust to fit those from 12–85 percent of the norm.
Communications specialists, administrators, office staff and detectives, as well as crime scene lab people or anyone who spends a lot of time sitting need proper seating and it is not a one size fits all area. Those doing computer work need one type of seat and those sitting for long periods using the telephone and working on consoles needs another type.
Some departments may choose to contract with a single provider to save on costs. For instance, the Williamson County Sheriff’s Department in Marion, Ill., contracted with CDS Technologies, who provides copiers and office equipment. Gary Wills of CDS said he was asked to provide all the office needs, including the chairs, tables and training room equipment. He chose to subcontract with HON Office Supply and said, “You can spend a lot more and get a lot less; this furniture is very excellent quality for today’s business.” He selected ergonomic chairs from the Lorell Westlake Series and training tables from ABCO.
The difference in providing a professional atmosphere may be as simple as visitors seeing a cluttered mess or seeing an orderly display with adequate storage, proper management of cables, and appropriate filing facilities. Shelving, credenzas, file cabinets, conference room tables, and visitor’s seating may be taken for granted but failing to put the same thought into purchasing them as the thought used with consoles and larger purchases, can lead to disorder, poorly performing products and inadequate storage.
Space Saver is one name known for providing order all over the department, from the evidence room to the locker room to the chief’s office. They provide shelving, cabinetry, personnel duty lockers, duty bag and uniform storage.
Space Saver provides shelving solutions to nearly any problem. Their high-density mobile storage systems eliminate non-productive space seen with fixed shelving. The shelving and cabinets of the Spacesaver Mobile Systems are mounted on wheeled carriages that travel on rails and these are operated manually, mechanically assisted, or powered. They provide twice the capacity of conventional file storage systems and can be precisely configured for any size record or document. The filing systems are enhanced by rotary shelves and end cap storage for frequently used items.
Space Saver offers rotary storage units that are a space-efficient and cost-effective alternative to lateral and vertical files. These systems can increase storage capacity by up to 400 percent over conventional drawer files. Personnel and duty storage is very important for morale, performance and keeping track of gear. Storage solutions that offer equal accommodations for officers that are adequate to their needs are important for officers’ morale.
Both Carbondale and Skokie Police Departments in Illinois have brand new facilities. They both decided to go with Space Saver products for shelving and storage. Bradford Systems provided products for Skokie and the Peterson Group for Carbondale. Kert Siemiawski, Evidence Technician for Skokie PD stated, “The high-density storage shelving allows us the ability to store numerous items; the easy mobility of the shelving allows us easy access to each row.”
Steve Michaels, Evidence Technician at Carbondale PD reported they use Space Saver’s rolling shelves and that most of the items in the evidence room as well as other areas in the building (locker room / SRT / armory) were ordered from Space Saver through the Peterson Group. Their officers’ lockers and gear bag storage provide adequate areas for keeping personal and departmental gear in order. Their evidence room has many shelves and cabinets from Space Saver including the pass-through lockers to keep evidence safe. STATISTICS
Furniture designed for training may also double as a forum for community classes and disaster quarters. As departments are able to expand and think to their future needs, they must consider not only traditional law enforcement concerns, but how to handle natural disasters that are occurring more frequently, and also domestic and foreign terrorism on American soil.
Designing training facilities that might double as emergency shelter for officers who may need to stay at the department 24/7 in the case of disasters or terrorism or even emergency shelters for the community can be an attractive idea because there may be funding from Homeland Security or other sources.
Kathy Marks has been a child abuse investigator for 30 years. She teaches classes regarding domestic terrorism and is a previous contributor to
LAW and ORDER Magazine. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.