TWINSBURG — Someone walking down a long corridor in the city’s police department would find themselves seeing some resources on the walls designed to help navigate Twinsburg.
On those walls are the latest tools the department is using to do its job, a large custom-designed map of the city, along with maps of park trails and even plans of the inside of school district buildings.
“We have maps in the cars, we’ve always had maps on the walls like in the back of the patrol room,” said Assistant Police Chief Bob Gonsiewski while showing the maps off. “This is just a little bit bigger, a little bit flashier.”
He added, “We’ve always had maps of the schools on the [mobile data terminals] in the cars, so the officers can look those up. Dispatch has them as well. These are just a bigger, easier to read thing that they kind of look at on their way out the door.”
The maps, which were put up in September, were assembled by Visual Marking Systems, Inc., a local graphics firm on Route 82 that has been doing work for the police department, such as putting graphics on the police cars and printing up the “No Solicitation” stickers the department gives to residents, since 2013.
Gonsiewski said VMS did the maps it at no cost and has offered to update the maps on an as-needed basis.
“It’s nice,” he said. “It will be useful for day-to-day operations mainly, I would say. They would be useful in planning out a raid or something, a warrant service or a critical incident.”
VMS Chief Operating Officer Ron Gizzo said VMS was approached by Twinsburg Police Officer Dan Fidoe about putting together a map.
“He and I are just friendly outside of work and he brought me the concept,” said Gizzo.
Fidoe was unavailable for comment.
Gizzo said it started with a “generic map” from the city that was printed out for officers to see and discuss.
“It was kind of phase one for us. We wanted to generally see how officers used it,” he said. “Basically it was kind of driven to help new officers.”
Over time, said Gizzo, park maps were found online and floor plans of the schools were included.
“Then we went into the city map and marked hospitals, schools, the police station, fire departments, all the points of interest,” he said. “They also used the water tower [at Darrow and Post roads] here in Twinsburg. They used that as a focal point.”
The maps also include mile markers, which the police use to indicate locations of crashes on highways.
“So we actually mark those so if they say, ‘We have an accident at mile marker 35.5,’ the guys know exactly where that is on [Interstate] 480,” he said.
Gonsiewski said the maps even include addresses of individual homes.
“The guys can look at them on their out to a call and pinpoint exactly where they’re going,” he said. “If they want to look at what’s directly behind that and, let’s say it’s a prowler call or something, they can see exactly what address they need to go to and the street behind it to come up behind somebody.”
Gonsiewski said that as part of a planned winter remodel of the department’s conference room, which doubles as an emergency operations center, a second city map identical to the one in the hall will be put up on a wall there. He said that besides routine calls and emergencies, the maps could also be useful when arrest warrants are served, especially if an outside agency is involved.
“We’ll have a SWAT team come in sometimes to do a high risk warrant, or the U.S. Marshal’s Service, and if you want to show them exactly what the neighborhood structure, the layout of the streets, is and stuff, you can bring them down here and show them,” he said.
Gizzo said it all started as “just a little project we did,” but he said the company now sees it as another product. VMS is about halfway through creating a similar map for Hudson police, he said, and is working on a map for the Twinsburg Fire Department, though one designed based on the department’s own priorities.
“They want the fire hydrants on there,” he said.
Gonsiewski said the police department has had a good relationship with VMS over the last six years or so.
“It’s just nice they’re able to do it,” he said. “They’ve been a very good local company to work with, very supportive of the police department.”
Reporter Jeff Saunders can be reached at 330-541-9431, firstname.lastname@example.org or @JeffSaunders_RP.