PARIS — Local police say a move to streamline its communication system with the rest of the county has paid dividends. 

The equipment isn’t a breakthrough revelation — towns across Oxford County have been using it for years — but it’s the first time Paris has integrated their department with the system.

Hosted by the Oxford County Regional Communications Center, the central dispatch that alerts fire, police and medical crews to an emergency, the Spillman police software system enables law enforcement to share records, reports and messages with other towns’ police departments in real time through the onboard laptops in police cruisers. 

For a number of years, Paris police opted for an alternative communications software which enabled officers to send messages within the department, but forced them to resort to radio to contact neighbors in Oxford and Norway. 

The practical applications of swapping systems are everywhere, Paris police Chief Michael Madden said.

“Crime doesn’t stop at the border. These people go to town to town. It opens the lines of communication between officers,” Madden said.

“If you’re on your own system, then you’re your own island,” he said.

At the recommendation of then interim Chief Jerry Hinton, police made the shift last November, Madden said. 

“When the entire county is on it, it dones’t make sense not to,” Madden said.

The technology, according to Norway Police Department Patrolman Ron Cole, is analogous to an email or online instant-messaging program, helping officers between towns cut down on radio communications. 

“At certain times it’s important not to go out on [radio] if you need information, but you need to be stealthy when approaching an individual,” Cole said. 

The system is also advantageous for emergency dispatchers because it reduces the amount of time police spend on the radio, leaving the airwaves less cluttered, he said. 

The equipment doesn’t revolutionize police work, but it does speed up the process, he said. 

“I had a crash one day, and a guy left the scene. I had his name and address, but I needed more information. I contacted the deputy via the onboard messaging system, and he went out and eventually located him,” he said.  

Excluding Fryeburg, every police department in Oxford County is now linked through Spillman, according to James Miclon, director of the Oxford County Regional Communications Center.

“The main focus behind the software, which is what we’ve had since 1978, is that it links the jail, the dispatchers and officers, who can complete reports at their desks or in their car,” Miclon said.  

Paris and other towns pay an upfront cost to join, plus a yearly fee that funds updates. 

“The problem with Paris not being on it was we couldn’t instant message on them. Paris was blind to that when they weren’t on Spillman,” Miclon said. 

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