Police upgrade records system: Software automates numerous tasks

By Shane Benjamin

The Durango Police Department is implementing a new records-management system that tracks nearly every aspect of law-enforcement activity in the department.

The $400,000 software stores incident reports, administrative records and hot spots for crime in the city. It tabulates statistics, keeps track of evidence and equipment, and allows the department to share data with other agencies, said Durango police Capt. Micki Browning.

“It automates all of this stuff that used to be done by hand,” Browning said. “It's very, very comprehensive. We're just thrilled to have it.”

The system, by Spillman Technologies of Salt Lake City, enables officers to plot criminal activity on a map, so they can visualize crime trends and adjust patrols accordingly.

The pinpoint map can be useful in identifying especially dangerous intersections based on the frequency of accidents.

“It will assist us when we analyze our staffing needs,” Browning said. “Do we have the appropriate number of officers out at any given time based on when crimes occur? What can we do based on the information that we have?”

The system tracks all previous contacts individuals have with the department – even if the only contact a person had was to turn in lost property. When officers make traffic stops, they can find out whether the driver already has received a warning for bad driving.

Police can insert information about frequent criminals, like whether an individual is known to carry a gun. If a career criminal has a tic, such as a twitch, police can document that in the system, and the next time someone is victimized and notices a tic the offender has, the system will flag that person as a possible suspect.

“I'm a firm believer that the more information you have at your fingertips, the better investigation that you can do,” Browning said. “You can never have too much information, and quite frankly, you can never have enough ways to access it.”

The system is especially beneficial to the internal operation of the police department.

Officers routinely need to complete training courses to stay certified in certain fields, and the system will alert administrators when it is time for an officer to be recertified.

The system also tracks equipment and lets administrators know when a gun or a bulletproof vest is due to be replaced.

It issues bar codes to every piece of property or evidence that enters the police station. This allows the department to track everything in its possession electronically. If a piece of property is turned in or evidence is checked out, the bar code will be scanned so a record of possession is always kept.

Eventually, the system will be able to share information with the La Plata County Sheriff's Office and the Southern Ute Police Department, which use similar programs.

“There is so much information sharing that goes on in law enforcement now,” Browning said.

The city paid $200,000 for the system, while an energy impact grant paid the other $200,000.

“I don't think we'll ever be able to tap out this system for all of the different things that it can do,” Browning said.