SOUTH ORANGE, NJ - The South Orange Police Department (SOPD) has been modernized with the addition of a new dispatch command center in 2014, and more new upgrades are on the way according to South Orange Village Trustee Howard Levison.

The renovations to the dispatch center, which took place just over two years ago, added two multi-monitor command centers to the precinct. Complete with adjustable lighting and height customization, the desks allow the officer managing dispatch to have a more comprehensive view of the officers on duty.

“We used to have to squint at these little old tube TVs,” said Officer Robert Infantes. “Not only was it hard to see, but it reduced our effectiveness at dispatch.”

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The system now features a monitor dedicated to zone coverage, which shows the officers that are responsible for each area of the village. The desk also has a display dedicated to InfoCop, a shared-service with West Orange that allows dispatch to view a license plate’s history for on-duty officers in real time.

More changes are on the way in the coming year, according to Levison. The old municipal court, which is now a shared service with Maplewood, will be renovated into a “ready room” for officers as they change shifts. Plans include monitors displaying the status of policing zones, so officers can be alerted to problems as they're preparing for their shift.

Additionally, the police station will be retrofitted with a new drain in coming months to prevent flooding. New chestware for officers will improve the quality of audio recordings from dashboard cameras, and the network connecting the cameras will be updated with new features as well.

“The software will allow us to ‘fence’ off areas of the town where a crime or event is occurring, and this will activate all squad car cameras in the vicinity,” said Levison.

South Orange Police Chief Kyle Kroll shared his enthusiasm for both the SOPD upgrades, and also for what new and emerging technologies mean for the future of police work.

“I really do believe cameras are the future of policing,” said Kroll. “It improves the accountability not only for our officers, but for everyone in the community.