OKs given for E-911, police software upgrades

Oak Ridge police and emergency personnel will get key updates to their systems and software this year.

By Russel Langley/The Oak Ridger 

Oak Ridge police and emergency personnel will get key updates to their systems and software this year.

The Oak Ridge Emergency Communications District Board of Directors approved a resolution Monday to spend up to $481,567 from the city’s 911 budget for the purchase and installation of necessary dispatch equipment. This upgrade is part of the state’s new 911 network and will enhance the response capabilities of emergency services in the city.

The second bit of good news came when Oak Ridge City Council voted unanimously to spend $486,808 to install new communications and records management software for the Oak Ridge Police Department. The conversation to approve the award to Spillman Technologies Inc. from Salt Lake City, Utah had no debate and only praise for Police Chief Jim Akagi and his staff from City Council.

The praise was in part due to the presentation by Akagi and his staff to the Council on the software at a previous work session at the end of January. In that presentation it was made clear that Akagi was faced with a choice of spending almost $400,000 to upgrade 15-year-old software or purchase a new system for $486,808.

This choice was made necessary when the Police Department’s current software vendor did an $80,000 upgrade that caused the software to cease communications with the state law enforcement network, according to Akagi. When this failure to communicate was brought to the vendor’s attention, Akagi said, they told him that repairing the problem would cost almost $400,000.

The Spillman software will enable Oak Ridge police officers to essentially go “paperless” in their work. Card readers will be used to read the magnetic strips on driver’s licenses and that information will automatically populate into forms such as field interview reports and traffic citations, Akagi said.

This will cut down on data entry and ensure more accurate records. It is expected that the department will see a 20 percent time reduction for records personnel, Akagi said.

Travis Knudsen, South regional sales manager for Spillman, confirmed in a post-meeting interview that full implementation will take about 12 months. He also gave insight into how the system will work in the field.

“For citations, offenders will have to sign a paper copy the officer prints out. We are working on digital signatures though,” Knudsen said.

The software will also alleviate much of the data entry required at the Police Department’s records session and in City Court. It can even be told to present information in unique ways for each user, Akagi said.

“The City Court Judge can customize the data as he wishes to use it and how it will best help him,” Akagi said.