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Acworth Police Ready for Upgrade

A proposed record management system will eliminate redundancies and better assist the Acworth Police Department in investigations, an official said.

To hear Det. Jonathan Sampson tell it, the Acworth Police Department's current record management system has some deficiencies.

Officers still have to save investigative reports on USB drives. They can't cross-check seemingly basic information while in the field. And the system's search function has limitations. 

That's why Sampson made the pitch Monday night for a new system.

It's called CourtWare, and it won't cost the city anything. But more than that, it will eliminate redundancies and better assist the Acworth Police Department in investigations, Sampson told Mayor Tommy Allegood and the Board of Aldermen.

Currently, the police department, the court and the jail use different record systems. 

"Not one of them," Sampson said, "communicates with the other."

So if an officer stops someone, that officer can't check jail or court records during the stop. 

"The only way to use the jail software is to drive back to the (police) station, sit down at a terminal and use it," Sampson said.

That's not the only limitation of USA Software, the system the city currently uses. 

"For example," Sampson said, "Cherokee County calls us and says, 'Hey, you've got any dealings with so and so?' We can only search the people who've been to our jail system as arrestees and we can only search (the) people who have been reported as victims of crimes."

With CourtWare, the police department will be able to pull up the names of anyone it has dealt with, whether they've been arrested or not. And it will also allow law enforcement personnel to quickly search reports for keywords.

"For example," Sampson said, "Cherokee calls again and says, 'Hey, we've just recovered six iPads, four cell phones and a GPS. Currently, unless someone in the detective division remembers the report about stolen iPads or stolen electronics, we can't find that report without looking through each report individually. This new system allows us to search through the narrative for 'iPads,' greatly aiding our investigative ability."

Entering and maintaining reports can also a hassle, Sampson said.

"Under the current system, there are five different saves for one report to make it from the police officer to the citizen. An officer saves it in his car, then he saves it onto a USB drive and walks it into the police department. Saves it onto a computer in the police department. His sergeant pulls up the report, reviews it and saves it into another location. Then the records division pulls that report up, reviews it, and saves it into its final resting place.

"Under the new system, there will not be multiple saves. Everything will be saved in the cloud so to speak. In real time. And once the file's created it will stay in its location until it reaches records and the end user."

The police department has looked at three software providers: CourtWare, USA Software and OSSI. More than 50 percent of the law enforcement agencies in Cobb use OSSI, Sampson said.

While Acworth liked that software "more than we liked the one we have here," he said, the price tag was "out of our reach."

"The cost for OSSI is an initial investment of $300,000 financed over three years with an annual maintenance cost of $28,000 per year."

USA Software, the software the city currently uses, quoted Acworth a one-time upgrade cost of $80,000 a year with an annual maintenance cost of $24,000 a year.

With CourtWare, there's no upfront cost and upgrades are free.

"The way their price works is they take a certain dollar amount off of each paid citation through the court system," Sampson said. "Our current rate is $4 per paid citation. The increase would be four more dollars, raising it to $8 per paid citation to finance this software. And that $8 per paid citation would cover ... everything about the software. There would be no other investment."

The police department will need $20,000 to outfit the department with new hardware to get the software up and running by Jan. 1, 2013. It will also need $4,000 to convert its old data from USA Software into the new system.

None of the money will come out of the city's general fund. The police department will pay for those expenses with money collected from drug seizures.

"We think (CourtWare is) the way to go," said City Manager Brian Bulthuis, who asked that the item be placed on the consent agenda for Thursday's voting meeting.

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