San Bruno Police Department Saves Time and Increases Productivity with VPI

Customer: San Bruno Police Dept

Industry: Public Safety (Gov. Agency)

State: CA


For the San Bruno Police Department, the installation of the VPI recording system significantly improved record turnaround time, increased productivity, and reduced costs. Read on to find out how.

Business Profile

The San Bruno Police Department is a full-service municipal police agency for a city of approximately 40,000 people, located in northern San Mateo County, California.  The Department has 48 sworn officers and over 70 employees. The Department provides a wide range of law enforcement services to the community and responds to over 25,000 calls for service each year.  Members of the San Bruno Police Department are dedicated to providing the highest possible level of service to our residents, business owners and visitors.


The San Bruno Police Department (SBPD), located in San Mateo County, 12 miles south of San Francisco, has earned a reputation as one of the most effective departments in Northern California. In the strong belief that efficient processes and dependable equipment are vital to the safety of the community, the department resolved to install a reliable, state-of-the-art recording solution that would enable them to manage risk and compliance and also provide the organization with the tools to measure and modify its dispatch performance. With approximately 28,000 inbound calls handled every year, it was vital to equip the dispatch center with the most reliable and technologically advanced solution available.

In addition to proven, 100% recording capabilities, it was imperative that the new recording system integrate with San Bruno PD's existing radio equipment and phone systems. Extensive online storage and fast, simple call retrieval and playback were also major considerations as the department was frequently asked by the district attorney's office to find and retrieve call records - sometimes with little or no notice. Plus, they needed the new system to be highly scalable, with unlimited channel capacity. Unlike their existing recorder, the new system would have to be easy and inexpensive to upgrade and maintain.


Merry Zook, San Bruno PD's Records and Dispatch Supervisor, recalls looking into the legacy system upgrade, "It would have been easier to just extend our existing contract, but the manufacturer was going through Chapter 11 and we were leery of making that choice." After an exhaustive search and close assessment of many different systems, San Bruno PD met with the VPI team and viewed a demo of their digital recording system. The search was over. San Bruno PD decided to purchase a VPI recording system.

San Bruno PD's VPI recorder integrated seamlessly with their existing Zetron radio equipment and Mitel phone systems to record and store telephone conversations, radio transmissions and intercom system transmissions. Designed to grow along with the needs of the department, the system currently records 32 channels, but has the capacity to offer the department the ability to record an unlimited number of channels. San Bruno PD's VPI system is software-driven, comprised of non-proprietary, commercially off-the-shelf hardware components (COTS) from industry leaders. This design assures optional independence from VPI for system maintenance, technical support, or backup purposes of system hardware - replacement components are available in virtually any high-end computer store. Additionally, VPI offers prompt technical support via a remote PCAnywhere connection to each server-recorder for remote diagnostics and prompt software issues resolution directly from VPI headquarters. "The ability to manage our system remotely was a big deal for the department. Because the system includes a PCAnywhere feature, the VPI technical support team can routinely dial-in to our system to do system checks and updates remotely," said Zook. The San Bruno PD chose to install their VPI system in part of the building that was not always convenient for Zook to access, yet this doesn't pose a problem for her, "With PCAnywhere, I am able to manage my system from anywhere in the building."



Significant Benefits

Prior to the installation of the VPI system, San Bruno PD had to rely on an obsolete, proprietary-hardware based recorder that required a lot of attention and provided inadequate online storage. "We were constantly having to monitor the system to change tapes, making sure we didn't loose any calls," recalls Zook. "On top of that, our older recorder did not include a database nor did it have a large storage capacity, making searching for records an extremely time consuming and frustrating process - loading and searching through old tapes for playback." The call retrieval process could potentially take up hours of the manager's time - time better spent attending to emergency response operations. VPI's intuitive interface combined with its powerful SQL database makes search, retrieval, and playback of call records fast and effortless. All historical data information is kept in the SQL database for convenient access and review. After quickly finding the required call record, the user has the option of sending the data via email or saving it to removable media or to any local network drive in any desired folder.

Searches can be conducted at any PC client workstation by desk location, department, group, site name, caller ID and/or dispatcher ID classifications, allowing users to easily locate call records via single or multiple queries - reducing search time from hours to seconds. According to Zook, this feature is a significant time-saver for the department, "We are always getting requests from the courts months after a call, to provide records to be used as evidence at trial. VPI not only reliably stores the calls, but it takes seconds to search, retrieve and send any record via email." Once San Bruno PD receives a request for a copy or playback of a 9-1-1 emergency call, managers are able to easily locate the call record in the system's database. With a simple click of the mouse, a .WAV file is attached to an email message to be delivered to the recipient's computer - a quick one step process! "The extreme ease in locating calls using the VPI system, as opposed to our previous recorder, has already saved us hours in researching calls. The local district attorneys and others who request records from us on a daily basis are very grateful for the speed with which we are able to respond to their requests."

Call records now play a valuable role by serving as a training tool in San Bruno PD's dispatch center. By using recorded calls as training tools, supervisors are able to put the novice dispatcher in a simulated real-life situation. This adds real-life dimension to the training process and enables the supervisor to review how each dispatcher handles the situation and their reaction timing. From there, they can get a better understanding of areas to target for further training. For quality monitoring, calls can be reviewed for liability and accuracy in order to provide the highest response performance. With the VPI system, supervisors can remotely monitor a dispatcher's conversation live or playback the call anytime after it has ended.

 Since implementing VPI's digital recording solution, San Bruno PD has realized a significant improvement in productivity and turnaround time in providing recorded verbal telephone and radio transactions. The quality of working conditions has greatly improved, allowing for the dispatch supervisor and staff to concentrate all efforts on maintaining a safe community, rather than spending time administering to their recording system. With the time saved as a result of the VPI recorder, the San Bruno PD has seen a significant improvement in department efficiency - records are reliably stored, easily retrieved, and quickly sent out to the courts. According to Zook, "The VPI system has made my job and that of the other managers easier in researching complaints and other inquiries quickly. This is a great system. I have already recommended it to other agencies in our county."