Police ticket tech: Township hears presentation on potential new records system

By on September 5, 2018

Starting soon, when citizens are handed a moving vehicle violation, commonly known as a ticket, it may be some comfort to know they’re looking at the latest in new technology.

Lieutenant Chris McKim of the Ephrata Police Department made a presentation to Ephrata Township Supervisors Tuesday evening, Sept. 4, describing the potential purchase of an advanced records management system for the police department.

The police department was informed that their previous system, “Metro Alert,” was being phased out so a new system would be needed.

Meanwhile, the county extended its records management system, free of charge, for the police department’s use.

However, in 2017 the county canceled its RMS, due to changing to an upgraded system, so the search began for a replacement for the EPD.

The Lancaster County Police Association brought in vendors to look at options, McKim told the supervisors.

“We found a company we like and want to move forward with this as soon as we can,” McKim said.

In the past, the department had to buy the server, the hardware, and a subscription fee.

With the new system, “Info Share” by CSI Tech (Computer Squared International) in New Jersey, the department won’t have to purchase the server and hardware, although they will need to pay for licensing, storage, a subscription fee, and start-up costs for training.

Those costs will be around $52,000.

“But now we can go to a secure website and we’ll need that so we can load our recovered files and information to a secure closed website,” McKim said.

Part of the first year expenses will include transferring recorded data to the new system, he said.

The overall cost will be more expensive than their old system, McKim said, but it is also more advanced and will be able to accomplish more for the department.

“It’s much better than what we have now, as different as night and day,” McKim told the supervisors. “This system will be able to do anything we ask of it.”

Included in that is improving “field time” for reporting since the officer will be able to do more of the necessary “paperwork” from a police car.

The new computer system will reduce redundancy and will also reduce secretarial work.

When the new totally printed-out ticket is given to a violator, for example, a copy immediately goes into the record management system as well as to a judge.

“Hand-written tickets will go away completely,” McKim said.

Criminal charges will be handled the same way, with more communication between branches of the law enforcement system.

Electronic, or e-filing, is the method of communication for Pennsylvania courts, but with their old RMS, the department’s information didn’t have a connection to those areas.

“This will allow us to share information with other townships, and there’s much less duplication,” McKim said. “As a more modern system, it will streamline the data.”

All the prosecutors’ offices in New Jersey, as well as several police departments in New Jersey and Pennsylvania are currently using this particular system, McKim said.

The cost to Ephrata Township would be $20,000 spread over a five-year period.

The full cost of the project for the new RMS would be about $160,000 and would be rolled into contract negotiations with the various municipalities covered by the department. That includes Ephrata Borough, Adamstown Borough, and West Cocalico Township, as well as Ephrata Township.

Chairman Clark Stauffer asked if the system would be outdated by the end of the five years.

“I believe this is a stable company that will be able to serve our needs in the future,” McKim said.

Any commitment by the township to share in the records system costs would have to wait until the new contract is signed and the township’s current contract expires the end of 2019, said Township Manager Steve Sawyer.

The police department would like to start installing the new system in January, if the municipalities agree to the funding.

In August, the police responded to 157 activities, McKim said, including 29 motor vehicle accidents, 11 theft-related complaints, one assault and one burglary.

In another matter, William J. Howard of Leola was approved for the township’s Emergency Management Coordinator’s position, pending the resignation of current EMC Paul Miley.

Miley had been appointed by the township as EMC for 2018 and began the training for certification for a new emergency management coordinator.

Local EMCs are required to complete a basic level course in one year and advanced level courses within two years.

Miley notified the township that that he would be required to complete 78 hours of online training plus additional classroom courses to complete the requirements.

Ephrata Police Chief William Harvey told the township that Pennsylvania hasn’t policed the requirements for EMC in the past, but that is expected to change.

Miley requested that the township look for a replacement, as he didn’t anticipate the amount of time the position would require.

Howard came well-prepared, the supervisors noted, with a Master’s Degree in Science in Public Safety Management from St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.

He had served as an assistant communications center manager and as a tele-communicator for emergency dispatch services.

Chief Harvey referred Howard to the township, noting that Howard is currently the EMC for West Earl Township.

Howard is certified at the professional level by the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency and is also certified by FEMA, the federal agency.

“That’s something I already bring to the table,” Howard said.

The supervisors all agreed that Howard met or exceeded their expectations for the position.

“Who would we find (if they didn’t appoint Howard)?” asked supervisor Tony Haws. “You have a person coming in here who has all the requirements needed.”

The supervisors are looking into possibly forming a regional EMC inter-municipal agreement with surrounding municipalities to improve service.

Currently, the position is a volunteer status, but if the regional emergency management becomes a reality, Howard would be getting paid by the municipalities.

A possible figure would be six cents per capita, making Ephrata Township’s share of the payment about $600, Sawyer said.

Sawyer added that the township’s emergency management plan also needs to be updated to be made current.

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