Issues with police software outlined
JOHNSTOWN — Ongoing problems with software hampering operations of the Fulton County Sheriff’s Department were chronicled Monday by county officials.
Deficiencies with Impact Software for law enforcement were related at a meeting of the Board of Supervisors’ Public Safety Committee at the County Office Building.
“I just wanted you guys to know what’s going on,” said Sheriff Richard Giardino.
Giardino’s informational item to the committee referred to a new countywide search for improved software.
The sheriff said his department is ready to review contracts for software related to the Computer Assisted Dispatch, or CAD system. But he told supervisors that county Budget Director Alice Kuntzsch indicated that ongoing problems with software “should be put on your radar.”
County Information Services Director Perry Lovell led a committee presentation centering on three main software modules utilized by the sheriff’s department. They included CAD, and what is known as the Records Management System, or RMS software.
Giardino said that in the late summer, the sheriff’s office commenced a search for a new CAD and RMS updated contact. He said that was after a discussion with Lovell’s department, Fulton County Fire Coordinator’s Office, Gloversville Police Department, Johnstown Police Department, and the District Attorney’s Office.
All agencies are experiencing “various issues,” Giardino said, with both technical support and ease of use with the current provider, Impact.
“The problems we are having right now, none of this is life threatening,” Lovell said.
He said the software used by 911 dispatchers sometimes has problems correcting itself. He said there are also mapping issues.
Giardino used the words “waste of time” and “duplication” when referring to some of the software issues at Central Dispatch on Route 29. He said that if a dispatcher types in an officer’s name, multiple calls can come up versus the current one needed.
“All the users have experienced some problems,” the sheriff said. “We’re having the same issues with our systemwide computer.”
Currently, Giardino said the sheriff’s office has stopped a transition to an updated RMS III system because of issues.
Lovell called RMS III a “debacle.”
“It just made everything worse,” he said, referring to testing.
Unfortunately, Giardino said issues reached a “critical point” after submission of his Capital Plan requests this summer when renewal of a contract was discussed. He said all stakeholders agree that Fulton County should launch a search and review of a new software provider before signing the current contract proposed.
“I don’t have a lot of good answers on this,’ Giardino said.
Lovell said the county was told RMS III would solve problems, after the second version, but it didn’t. One of the problems is that officers in patrol cars have to manually put in local law information before charging someone.
“The vehicle location isn’t stable,” Lovell said. “Most of these problems have been around in one form or another for a long time.”
Part of the problems with the Impact software, he said, is corporate as the company has gone through several incarnations in recent years. Lovell said he was at an Impact conference recently in Saratoga Springs.
“They took ownership of the problem,” he said, although the firm is not hiring new people.
Lovell said the problem for Fulton County is that “suddenly” there is an issue in the last two months.
County Civil Defense-Fire Coordinator Steven Santa Maria said the software and its issues are mostly on the law enforcement end.
“There’s very little there for the fire service side,” he told the committee.
But he said there can be problems with mutual aid agreements, and dispatchers having to use paper files to do their job. He said the county needs a good software package for “everybody.”
“We should know if we’re going to a dangerous building,” Santa Maria said.
Giardino said he and Santa Maria sent out surveys to respective association members to gather information on what they currently use and what they recommend.