Sheriff’s Office Embraces Technology
One or two years ago Page County Sheriff John Thomas recognized the need for a county-wide notification service for emergency situations. One option was Reverse 911-a public safety communications system developed to deliver recorded emergency notifications to a selected set of telephone service subscribers-but the cost to Page County became prohibitive.
So, the need arose to find an alternative that could readily address school closings, road closures and emergencies.
“We needed a way to get information out there-but Reverse 911 is expensive,” said Sheriff Thomas.
With an annual county budget of only $15,000 for such services, on e minute of Code Red (or Reverse 911) reaching 11,000 phones, cost $3,700 per minute.
The new Sheriff’s Office app costs the department $2,495 per year for unlimited iPhone or Android devices. The initial year includes set-up costs and an additional $2,495. The new push app can notify drivers of road closures or a hurricane warning. The app can distribute an Amber alert-information about a child abduction emergency-or notification of shelters that are open in case of a weather emergency. All of the related costs come out of the Sheriff’s Office budget.
“If we have a school that is shut down from burst water pipe, we can do a push notification to those in the selected area,” Thomas said. “We can do that at no cost-we can send 1,000 per year at not cost.”
Thomas feels confident that the overall savings will justify the initial cost of using push notifications, and not Code Reds. Push notifications are breaking news, which remain for a short period of time.
“This free app can keep everyone in the community notified,” Thomas said. “If they want the notification they can do that, or if they want to check road closures in a timely manner.”
Page County Sheriff’s Administrative Assistant Mark Dofflemyer has been an integral part of sourcing the App from OVC, LLC in Auburn, Al. The Apps is designed to be user friendly with features that range from offering crime reporting statistics to linking with Facebook.
“As an agency, we feel it is important to reach all age groups,” said Dofflemyer. “The Sheriff’s Office app is the perfect way to have constant contact with Page County residents-and it a cost-efficient way to keep citizens updated at a moments notice.”
The App comes equipped with a community calendar, from ballgames to a menu linking upcoming events throughout the county. According to Thomas, the greatest benefit to the county is immediate access to things that they need to know especially for parents and members of the community.
Thomas wants residents to have access to solid reliable information to reduce the fear factor of sending out Code Reds. The App has the ability for the public to contact the Sheriff’s Office. The department is routinely contacted by concerned citizens for school closings-the new App alleviates the need for those calls.
“My goal would be that everyone in the county would upload it, so they can receive push notifications,” Thomas said. “People can make arrangements based on the information received.”
“It’s very simple-go to the app store and type in Page County,” said Dofflemyer.
Youth Empowerment Fair
Page Alliance for Community Action involved in programs for healthy families
LURAY, Virginia – January 8, 2014 – With a goal of healthier youth and families in Page County, Page Alliance for Community Action (PACA) and PMH have joined forces to bring nationally-recognized motivational speaker Dale ‘Mad Dog’ Messmer to Luray High School Thursday, March 13 at 7 pm.
The former Marine spent ten years in prison for drug smuggling and armed robbery in four states. Since his release, Mad Dog has chosen to save as many young people as possible from the consequences of poor choices.
The doors at LHS will open at 6 pm for a Youth Empowerment Fair, featuring members of the PACA, as well as interested community organizations involved with youth. Through a grant, pizza will be served, and Diane Dovel, food services director for Page County Public Schools will offer samples of healthful new recipes the cafeterias are serving.
Coalition members include: Page County Sheriff’s Department, Page County Public Schools, Smart Beginnings, United Way of Page County, CHOICES, Crossroads Counseling, Rileyville Church of the Brethren, Page County 4-H, Luray and Page County’s Parks & Recreation Departments and the Luray-Page County Chamber of Commerce.
To reserve a table at the event, please contact Susan Betcher at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Commonwealth of Virginia
Public Safety Virginia Information Technologies Agency (VITA)
PSAP Grant Programs
The Page County Sheriff’s Office has received a 2014 Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) Grant from the Public Safety Virginia Information Technologies Agency (VITA) for $150,000.00. The grant is a twenty four month grant to replace the non-vendor supported Cassidian Digital RescueSTAR and SeNTinel workstations to prepare for Next Generation technology within the Page County Emergency Communication Center. The project has a direct effect on operational services of the PSAP. The project will provide twelve significant enhancements that improve the flexibility, usability, configurations, and security of the product and increase interoperability with third party systems.
The Page County Sheriff’s Office has received a 2014 Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) Wireless E-911 Education Program Grant for $2,000.00 through the Public Safety Virginia Information Technologies Agency (VITA). The grant is a twelve month grant to provide funds to take advantage of the educational and training opportunities offered at the spring and fall National Emergency Number Association (NENA) and Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) conferences. The benefits of the providing this training will be that we will be providing the staff with continued education with the current best practices, keep personnel current on the changing technologies, and enhancements as well as the requirements within the profession.
Commonwealth of Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services
Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Grant
The Page County Sheriff’s Office has received a 2014 Internet Crimes Against Children Grant from the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice (DCJS) for $68,973.00. The key component of the grant program will be to cover salary and fringe benefits for a full-time ICAC Investigator. The Page County Sheriff’s Office ICAC Investigator work to ICAC Affiliated Cases. The grant funding will provide our community with an investigator that will be dedicated to the NOVA-DC ICAC Task Force. The NOVA-DC ICAC Task Force will vigorously pursue individuals involved in sexual exploitation of our children.
Commonwealth of Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services
School Resource Officer Grant
The Page County Sheriff’s Office has received a 2014 School Resource Officer Grant from the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice (DCJS) for $100,000.00. The key component of the grant program will be to hire two school resource officers. The officers will implement the School Resource Officer program at Springfield Elementary School and at Page County Middle School. These positions will promote school safety by decreasing the barriers between law enforcement, students, staff and parents.
Sheriff John B. Thomas
Mark Dofflemyer, Administrative Assistant
(540) 743-1252 (fax)