The Columbia Police Department is upgrading its computer records system that is more than 20 years old.
It’s a million dollar project that city leaders said could help solve crimes faster and make report writing more efficient.
“Right now when they [officers] write reports, issue citations in the field, those are all handwritten,” said Deputy City Manager Tony St. Romaine. “They have to return to the police station down at Sixth and Walnut, spend time actually dictating their report into a dictaphone system, which is then listened to by a records bureau who then types the report, then they have to send it back to the patrol officer who takes time to review it, send it back, make any corrections and so that whole process sometimes takes days.”
It’s a 22 year old process that’s about to change with an approved upgrade to a computer records system called Sungard.
St. Romaine has been part of the planning process for the project over the last several years.
CPD is not the only department using an outdated records system. The Boone County Sheriff’s Department is also interested in upgrading to a more modern system.
In the past, multiple agencies in Boone County worked to try to make the upgrade together so that all agencies could share data to help fight crime more efficiently, but they never came to an agreement on a system.
“They may know about one person in the county,” St. Romaine said. “If that person, you know, is known to have certain characteristics or have been involved in some criminal activities, if they have suddenly moved into the city, we have no idea who they are because we just don’t share that sort of information.”
The Boone County Sheriff’s Office said they’ve been talking about a computer records system upgrade over the last several weeks.
Although it will take about a year to fully implement the new system at CPD, St. Romaine said he believes it could help solve crimes.
“Solving crimes is all about information, and the more information you have from more sources, the better possibility I think you have at solving that crime,” he said.
ABC 17 News is told the city will be meeting with the Sungard company over the next few weeks to get the process started.
Because officers will be able to write reports from their cars, the city said it will allow them more time to patrol the streets during their shift.