Castleton Police Department: FirstNet & Technology Use
Castleton Police Chief Peter Mantello has more than 27-years of experience in policing. His background spans years as a military police officer to the day-to-day work of community policing in Woodstock and in Castleton. The department of five full-time officers and five part-time officers, respond to approximately 1,850 calls per year. They made 177 arrests last year. The department serves a community where the population rapidly changes depending on the presence of a college student population of approximately 2,000.
How does your department currently manage its communication requirements?
Our two-way radio system is the backbone of our communication, but having a reliable WiFi connection is important within our cruisers. We have Panasonic Toughbooks in three of our four cruisers. The Toughbooks are equipped with air cards to allow for mobile data operations. I have a town-issued smart phone and other personnel use their own phones. The phones are useful to access applications like Google Maps. All of our full-time officers have body cameras.
How do you manage the data gathered through your body cameras?
Due to security considerations, we do not store anything in the Cloud. Instead, all digital footage is downloaded onto a USB stick or DVD. We then download that data to a computer in the office. Our cameras can hold 21 GB of data. The battery life is six hours, which can be challenging. Police culture has changed and an atmosphere of citizen mistrust exists. The video covers most of what will happen on a call. We think that can be used to foster trust with the public.
How do you think your department could benefit from FirstNet?
It could be useful to us. However, we will need funding resources in order to leverage the new technology. The biggest challenge for smaller agencies is having the budget to supply the infrastructure needed to do our jobs.
What future technology updates do you hope to make in the future?
I would like to see our entire two-way system become digital, not analog. We hope to have a better body camera system in place, one that provides longer battery life. If the signal strength is there, it also might be useful to be able to stream video to allow us to get resources out more quickly.