The Communications and Technology Section (CaTS) of the Department of Public Safety (DPS) is responsible for the maintenance of the department’s records management system and the SmartNet Communications System. Its records management system, best known at the DPS as the Law Enforcement Management Information System or LEMIS was first implemented in June of 1995. The LEMIS is where police officers enter field response criminal and traffic reports, motor vehicle registry and traffic citation information for a variety of departmental usages.
These usages are inclusive of providing police reports to the common public through the department’s Records, Identification and Firearms Registration Section, criminal and traffic investigative follow-up activities and in generating statistics for a number of purposes.
The CNMI SmartNet Communications System was purchased by the department in the early 1990s. Several years later, following a change in Administration, it was consequently transferred to the Emergency Management Office under the Office of the Governor. This system is currently maintained by a technical staff working out of the Emergency Management Office. The CaTS, however, continue to maintain portable radios assigned to individual police officers, firefighters and logistics and support staff within the department.
Also included in the CaTS maintenance areas of responsibility are base station and mobile communications system equipment assigned to a number of emergency response vehicles and satellite stations within the Department of Public Safety.
The CaTS is currently staffed by a civilian Network/Database Administrator, a police officer with a technical background in emergency communications and is headed by a Police Captain.Back-Up Support Staff
Depending on the challenges technical staff are faced with on a day to day basis, the department may also from time to time seek the assistance of the CNMI Criminal Justice Information System Committee’s Technical Support Team on matters affecting its information system network and the CNMI Emergency Management Office on matters affecting communications.Future Projects
The Department of Public Safety is in the process of finalizing required paperwork to replace its aging records management system. This is part of a bigger initiative to link all agencies and departments within the criminal justice community through an established central information system repository. It also will revolutionize the way police officers and motor vehicle staff handle the entry and access of information through the information system.
Amongst the added features the new system will bring are field based reporting, audit trails, digital audio and video interviews, still photo access, etc., capabilities. It will also allow police officers to access other information released by other criminal justice agencies (CNMI Office of the Attorney General, CNMI Superior Court, Probation Unit, Juvenile Probation Unit, Department of Corrections, Office of Parole, Juvenile Detention Unit and Department of Corrections) disseminated as part of an All Points Bulletin. The total cost of this project in its initial phase is expected to cost $525,000.00.
Another project the CaTS is aggressively pursuing is the replacement of all of its police officers’ and firefighters’ portable handheld radio units. As a result of the terrorist attacks against the United States on September 11th, 2001, in 2003, Former President George W. Bush issued Homeland Security Presidential Directive 5 to establish the National Incident Management System (NIMS) providing standards over a variety of issues which includes communications.
Made as part of the NIMS was for the federal government, states and territories to begin the process of acquiring interoperable communications equipment.
As such is the case, the DPS through the CNMI Office of Homeland Security applied for the Public Safety Interoperable Communications Grant from the United States Department of Commerce. The DPS’ grant application was later (earlier in 2008) approved and the sum of over $700,000.00 was awarded to the department.
The DPS intends to use these funds to acquire Project 25 upgradeable portable handheld units for all of its first responders which are expensive, however, more durable radios.Other Accomplishments
The DPS took the lead and ensured the completion of the CNMI Statewide Communications Interoperability Plan which was submitted and consequently approved by the United States Department of Homeland Security in December 2007.
The Officer-In-Charge of the Communications and Technology Section and the department’s Commissioner continue to be actively pursuing communications system improvement efforts not only within the department but the entire Commonwealth Government as a whole.
It is anticipated that once the Memorandum of Understanding to create a CNMI Interoperable Communications Achievement Partnership (which was initiated by the DPS) is finalized and signed by and amongst all Commonwealth Government and private non-government organization stakeholders, that a more coordinated and organized front be developed to bridge gaps in attaining a Project 25 complaint interoperable communications system for the CNMI Government.