Angeles Police Department's
Communications Dispatch Centers
Here are a few photos of LAPD's new dispatch center downtown ("MCDC" - Metropolitan Communications Dispatch Center), which began operation on November 5, 2002. Initially, both non-emegency and 9-1-1 telephone answering positions moved in, with the remainder of the radiotelephone operator (dispatcher) functions gradually phased in over the following month. The building is nearly 60,000 square feet, with two complete floors and a mezzanine. The dispatch room itself is approximately 15,000 square feet, and replaces the overcrowded 6000-square-foot facility below City Hall East. The building also houses administrative, "projects," and some training facilities for Communications Division, the largest division in Los Angeles Police Department.
The MCDC had its "shake-down cruise" until September, 2003, working out the bugs that inevitably crept into any project of this magnitude, handling police dispatching for the entire city. On September 23, 2003 a second "mirror" center - virtually identical to downtown's - opened in the West San Fernando Valley. Initially the "VCDC" (Valley Communications Dispatch Center) handled dispatch for patrol and traffic divisions in the Valley Bureau only, but in April, 2005 West Bureau dispatching was also moved there. The downtown facility now handles Central and South Bureau patrol and traffic divisions. Either center is able to immediately take over all dispatching for the entire department should the other suffer any type of failure. Click here for the "LAPD Beat" article on the Valley Dispatch Center's opening.
The two facilities are fully redundant in real-time, with multiple independent intercommunications paths.
The department's existing 20-year-old (with some upgrades over the years) computer-aided-dispatch (CAD) system will remain in use for the near future, after which they will cut over to an entirely new CAD system from PrintrakTM, now a Motorola company. Call-taker and Radiotelephone Operator (RTO) consoles use a VESTA telephone/computer/9-1-1 interface system. All principal radio equipment is also from Motorola, including new Quantar base stations. Voice radio operates over frequencies in the UHF-TV band, Channels 16 and 20 (482-488 and 506-512 MHz), in "APCO P25" digital mode. LAPD has decided to remain with a "conventional" radio system rather than going to a more expensive and complex "trunked" system.
According to the city's Information Technology Agency, the voice radio system consists of 57 radio channels (pairs), using 241 fixed transmitters and 443 receivers, located at 23 mountaintop radio sites, and over 10,000 mobile and portable radios. The Mobile Data radio system uses 10 frequency pairs for over 1400 Mobile Data Terminals ("MDTs") in police vehicles, and 24 transmitters and receivers at 9 mountaintop sites. The voice and data systems, along with those of the LAFD and other city agencies, are linked by the city's $20-million microwave radio transmission system, with 73 point-to-point links located at 40 radio sites in and around the City of Los Angeles.
For more information, see the following pages on the L.A.P.D.'s Official website ( www.lapdonline.org ):
9-1-1 Magazine Sidebar "LAPD: Current (as of 2001) Dispatch Operations" - now entirely out-of-date
Communications Dispatch Centers and here
Magazine - Revamping for the 21st Century
(and NO TRUNKING for LAPD radios!)
Special thanks to Lt. Chuck Mealey,
Communications Division Assistant Commanding Officer, for the
August 3, 2002 tour and photo opportunity, conducted in
conjunction with the Communications Division Picnic &
IF YOU'RE USING
INTERNET EXPLORER, PRESS YOUR "F11" KEY FOR BEST VIEWING
Radio and Call-Taker Consoles, from Evans Consoles, Inc.
The small white box below the center monitors is the climate-control panel...one at every console, much like a car's heater / air-conditioning control. The two round air vents are visible on either side of it. There is also a variable heater-register vent near the operator's feet, and a "white noise"generator to help cancel out ambient noise in the room that may be distracting to the operator.
Each console - tabletop, monitors, and/or keyboard tray - can be raised or lowered to suit the operator's comfort, such as if he/she wants to work standing up, for example.
|Windows again! Small black thingies above monitors are two adjustible work-spotlights||
Indirect overhead lighting; "media" and viewing room upper right
The southerly portion (about half) of the dispatch room. Radio consoles toward the background, 9-1-1 and non-emergency phone-line consoles closer. Floor supervisors' positions are in the elevated wood-faced section in left background. When giving lunch or other breaks, the "relief" operators won't have to run around the room to the various consoles, but can simply bring the CAD and radio settings onto their own console literally with a "flip of a switch."
There are approximately 80 all-purpose consoles, with about 20 normally dedicated to radio dispatching - multiple frequencies can be "tied" to single consoles during slow periods; 40 consoles are for call-takers. In an adjoining room, separated by a moveable partition, are 20 consoles for training new operators. During disasters or other particularly busy periods (e.g. New Years Eve) these consoles can be brought online immediately and staffed as either telephone or radio positions.
This photo was taken from
the combination media room and "public" viewing area
upstairs... no more crowds of "lookie-loos" gathering
around busy operators (and the sometimes confidential info
displayed on their screens).
The picture was taken through its LCD windows, which keep the noise out, and can be adjusted from almost-clear for photography to completely opaque to reduce camera-light glare when the room is used for things such as conferences or press briefings. There will also be a non-operating console on display just outside this room for those interested in taking a closer look. They may also have older-style consoles there on exhibit.
History of LAPD Communications - they've come a long way...