Control, alt, delete: Agencies give software the boot
After spending $66,143 on software to eliminate duplication of record keeping between the Moffat County Sheriff’s Department and the Craig Police Department in 1999, the two agencies are budgeted to spend $78,000 over the next four years to replace it.
Three years ago, the police department and the sheriff’s department, with the help of a grant, purchased a state-of-the-art record-keeping system that, in reality, doesn’t offer what it promised.
The police department’s contribution was $6,500.
The remainder was paid with a federal grant from Edward G. Bryne’s Memorial State and Local Law Enforcement Assistance Program.
Despite that expense, the Craig Police Department has budgeted $31,000 and the sheriff’s department $13,000 this year and $34,000 over the next four years to replace the system purchased from Custom Computer Software Systems (CCSS) in Denver.
“I would’ve had a much more difficult time getting our council to fund this again if we would’ve paid for the bulk of it,” Police Chief Walt Vanatta said.
The system was purchased to upgrade the departments’ capabilities and to network the police and sheriff’s departments when they moved from separate locations to the combined public safety center.
The CCSS software was purchased to eliminate duplication of efforts among law enforcement officers. Once an incident was entered into the system, whether it was through the jail, police department or sheriff’s department, that information is accessible to all three entities.
Upgrading the software the department used while located at City Hall would have cost as much as purchasing a new system, Vanatta said, and would not have met all the needs of the sheriff’s department.
But, even that would have been better than the system the department has now.
“The (CCSS) system might have met our needs if it would’ve worked,” Vanatta said. “Sometimes the low price isn’t the best product. The cost was affordable and we thought it would do what we needed it to do.”
He said the CCSS software has never worked the way it did when originally demonstrated.
“That was kind of the problem we’ve had with the software,” Craig Police Department Captain Jerry DeLong said. “Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.”
Tensions are high at the police department among personnel who deal with the software daily, Vanatta said.
“We are so frustrated,” he told the Craig City Council during the city’s budget work session.
He said people would enter a report that disappears and has to be rewritten.
Vanatta estimates DeLong, the department’s in-house computer technician, spends one-third of his time trying to solve problems caused by the software.
For nearly a year, repeated calls, letters and e-mails to the company went without response.
Finally, CCSS responded and has upgraded the software and been on site to work out the problems, but the situation isn’t improving, Vanatta said.
“It wasn’t working at all,” Vanatta. “For one, we couldn’t get them to respond to us and fix the problem. Then they came and upgraded the software and it still doesn’t work the way we want it to.”
Vanatta said the contract for the software was made through the county, so the city couldn’t take legal action.
The county attorney did look into a legal remedy, but said the warranty had expired on the software and that the costs would be higher than the purchase price.
“Unfortunately in today’s world of police software it’s expensive,” Vanatta said.
The software the police and sheriff’s departments plan to purchase will come from Data Services and Systems Integration in California. The departments have researched it and talked to other departments that have used it.
“It’s just a better system,” Vanatta said. “It meets our needs and expands our capabilities. The other system might have met our needs if it would’ve worked.”
The city council has approved the purchase and Vanatta hopes to buy it after the first of the year.
Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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