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Feb 29, 2012 11:37 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town Board Stalled On Police Technology Upgrade

Feb 29, 2012 11:59 AM

Southampton Town Police Chief William Wilson Jr. has been pushing the Town Board for months to approve an upgrade to his department’s aging software—an upgrade that he was told by the board in the fall that he would get to boost efficiency in a smaller force. The software would lift Southampton’s busiest law enforcement agency out of its technological isolation by allowing it to tap into shared databases of arrest and crime information with a wealth of other agencies.

The chief has pitched the purchase of Admit Computer Services’s Impact software, a system designed specifically for New York State agencies. At least nine other police departments in Suffolk County, including the Suffolk County Sheriff’s office, Southampton Village and Shelter Island, as well as 13 in Nassau County use Impact. If Southampton Town were to join them, the data-sharing would be critical to allow officers to do their jobs more effectively, the chief said.

Right now, it is difficult for an officer doing a field interview at 3 a.m., for example, to know if the subject the officer is talking to has a history of fighting the police, stole a gun in a nearby community the week before or is telling the truth about his identity or immigration or parole status, Chief Wilson said. Impact, he says, would quicken that process by leaps and bounds.

Impact software in patrol cars would allow officers to instantly pull up mug shots, arrest histories, the precise data that is key to safety, he said. Impact software on computers at headquarters would allow dispatchers to access—with the click of a mouse—arrest records, case records, mug shots, and even court information.

Town Police headquarters in Hampton Bays runs on a decades-old software system that, officers say, slows down their work.

“It takes a lot, for whatever reason, for the software to generate what we need,” said Town Police Detective Tim Wilson, who is not related to the chief. “And I’m not talking about 20 minutes, 30 minutes. I’m talking about three to four hours is the delay.” He cited a rash of larcenies from vehicles in the fall as an example in which detectives were slower to make arrests because of the lag in time it took to access data. Det. Wilson said because of the extra steps involved, the current case management system means information is not readily available to other officers.

In the detention area, officers enter data when processing people who have been arrested. Because the current software does not automatically send the information to the State Division of Criminal Justice Services and Suffolk County Police, their next step is to walk over to another computer and retype the same information. In Southampton Village Police headquarters, there is no extra step.

Impact also features a sophisticated records management system and computer-aided dispatch system that would send alerts to dispatchers when a unit exceeds a designated time limit, for example. It would also allow users to send text messages to other dispatch positions.

But the proposal—even after being broken down into two, more bite-sized phases—has been stalled at the Town Board level, where it needs a supermajority of four out of five votes to pass because it calls for issuing bonds. The board was poised to vote last month on authorizing the borrowing of $295,000 to pay for the first phase of the project—new software and upgrades at police headquarters in Hampton Bays—but a resolution to authorize the borrowing was never introduced because of concerns that it would not get enough votes to pass. The second phase, at a cost of $310,000 would install computers running the software—and the ability to print tickets—into patrol cars.

Southampton Town Councilman Chris Nuzzi and Councilwoman Christine Scalera have been among the holdouts on the plan, saying they would like to explore other, possibly less expensive, software vendors.

However, Admit Computer Services is the only company on the New York State approved vendors list, freeing the town from having to issue a Request for Proposals before making a purchase, the chief pointed out. It is also fully certified by the State Division of Criminal Justice Services and compliant with state standards and forms, such as those used for arrests, incidents and motor vehicle accidents, he said.

Mr. Nuzzi declined to comment on the proposal this week, but said after a recent Town Board meeting that he wanted to see if another system might be better suited for the town. Ms. Scalera did not return calls for comment this week, but previously said she would like to consider more options because of the amount of money involved.

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The Town should not buy anything from Admit Computer, they cost the town ALOT of money when they dropped the Gov't business system and the town had to buy a new program. Also 1/2 the village impact system and it's add-ons do not even work most if not all the time.
By Ref11 (17), hampton bays on Mar 2, 12 11:53 PM
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For the sake of efficiency, rather than giving Chief Wilson another $$750K to play with, the Town Council should hurl the money out of an upper window of town hall. Not only will the effect be the same as if Daddy Warbucks got his hands on it but it will eliminate future expenses that would be incurred by his misuse of the funds.
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Mar 3, 12 10:40 AM
This an expensive project, and "highhatsize" is right, there will be annual recurring costs (typically 15% - 25% of initial liscencing) in maintence fees.
I went on the NYS DCJS web-site (http://www.criminaljustice.ny.gov/crimnet/ojsa/impact/index.htm ) and didnt see anything about "approved vendors" (Admit isnt the only player in this market), but did see that the state was co-funding these projects. Q: Would the town be getting any state funding to pay for the initial implementation and ...more
By winkelby (38), westhampton on Mar 7, 12 8:04 AM
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