Planning ahead

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After having to scramble to set up the technology systems necessary to support the three-week investigation into the sniper attacks last fall, Montgomery County, Md., officials advise other jurisdictions to plan ahead.

"I strongly advise that law enforcement agencies realize this could happen again," said Capt. Thomas Didone, director of the county police department's records division. "Through better preparation, they can minimize the costs and [increase] the effectiveness. Every law enforcement agency needs to understand you're handicapping yourself if you don't maximize your technology."

Dennis Rooney, director of the county's Department of Technology Services' telecommunications division, recommended that jurisdictions set up a location with enough phones and people to handle the deluge of calls coming into a tip line. Call takers will need a template outlining what information to gather from the person on the other end, he said, and a training program should be set up to ensure that public safety personnel know how to use the telephone systems and handle calls.

Didone said agencies should also find ways to link their computer systems so investigators can easily share information. "My belief is that most agencies won't have resources on hand, so they need to prepare now," he said.

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