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IT Infrastructure Survey: Western Michigan University Police

Western Michigan University (WMU) is a research university with an enrollment of 25,000 located in Kalamazoo.

Scott Coy is a lieutenant with the WMU Police Department, which has three divisions: Patrol, Detective and Community Policing. Coy handles the department’s application of technology. Coy talked with PSIT regarding WMU PD’s IT infrastructure and some of the new technologies it is using for staff scheduling, CAD, RMS, fingerprinting and citations to increase productivity.

Electronic Staffing

In the Winter of 2011, WMU Police chose TeleStaff from Kronos for electronic staffing. “It basically takes the human out of the scheduling system,” Coy stated. It is an automated staff scheduling system, so everything is available online and it is much more immediate than before. For example, in the past, if the university canceled a special event, the police department would have to notify officers they weren’t needed to work by phone. With TeleStaff, an electronic phone call / text message alerts those officers instead of manually trying to call all of them. Coy said the system even allows voice to text, which means he can type in a message and it automatically makes the calls to the officers.

Twice a year, the WMU Police do a “shift bid” Coy said, which means they select the shifts they want and TeleStaff automates the entire schedule. The interface is quite similar on a desktop computer as it is on a smartphone, so officers can check their schedules from their smartphones while out in the field. Beginning this Spring, the Payroll function will go from a three- to four-hour process (manually inputting hours for each officer) to mere 4 minutes with TeleStaff. Shift supervisors will approve overtime and other exceptions, and that is something they used to have to manually manually complete on paper. Now it’s happening in real time. Coy said there is a lot more control over schedules now.

Another benefit to TeleStaff is the staffing statistics it provides the WMU Police. “Shift strength” tells how much overtime is paid for special events or road patrol, etc. This helps educate for staffing future events. In terms of technical support, Coy said Kronos travels to them in Michigan for advanced training of the product, which equates to Level 1. The WMU Police Department is in Phase 1 of the TeleStaff rollout now, but “I can’t wait for Phase 2,” Coy commented.

CAD/RMS/Fingerprint & Booking/Evidence Management

WMU Police just rolled out a new CAD, RMS; FingerRoll, Imagenet; and in the near future Case Management systems by ID Networks. Coy called ID Networks a “one-stop shop.” ID Networks is a records management and identification technologies company for the criminal justice market. They specialize in local and regional law enforcement applications, with multi-jurisdictional solutions for data, imaging and fingerprints. In October of 2001, the FBI certified their FingerRoll livescan for use in criminal justice and civilian markets. ID Networks products are compliant with NCIC, the FBI, ANSI/NIST, and other nationally accepted standards.

Before choosing ID Networks, Coy said when interviewing different vendors, he realized there was a difference between “Yes, we can” and “Yes, we do.” ID Networks does it and does it well for WMU Police. In mid-December, the department rolled out a new CAD system with automatic vehicle locator (AVL) for increased officer safety. The system allows expediant backup to other area police agencies too by providing visual driving directions directly to the patrol cars since officers might not be familiar with the area. The ID Networks solution has a map with an icon of the patrol vehicle on it so they can see exactly where they are going. Western Michigan University’s Geographical Information System Department (GIS) provided layers to ID Networks’ high-end mapping systems. It measures distances with great accuracy, i.e., the distance from a fire hydrant to a building. In mid-January, WMU Police went live with ID Networks’ Report Writing capability in their RMS product. Officers can create hyperlinks to their reports and add any type of media to a case for easy access for those reviewing the reports. It streamlines everything because it’s done electronically. Coy reads reports on his iPad, which “saves trees,” he noted.

They also went live with FingerRoll and Imagenet to complete their suite of products from ID Networks. In moving to the Cloud Computing concept, with ID Networks’ solution, daily shift reports are manually changed to a PDF and put in a Dropbox account, which can be opened on a smartphone or iPad. For RMS and Booking, photos and fingerprints are automatically uploaded to the state database.

ID Networks provides a full range of state-of-the-art fingerprint and palm print identification solutions. They offer a complete line of Livescan systems for criminal booking and applicant background checks. Agencies can pick and choose from a wide range of hardware and software options based on current needs, while maintaining expandability as technology requirements grow.

Electronic Citations & Crash Software

For electronic citation and crash software, WMU Police chose iyeTek, who recently partnered with ID Networks. Headquartered in Kalamazoo, iyeTek is privately held and employee-owned and was started by former employees of WMU Police, Coy said. iyeTek is an application development company creating technology solutions specifically designed for the public safety industry. “They spent a lot of time in a patrol car listening to officers to design products best suited for the cockpit,” Coy explained.

iyeTek provides solutions, including software applications, hardware, training and support, for many local government and public safety agencies. They invent, develop and deploy Electronic Citation Systems, Electronic Crash Reporting Systems and Online Incident Reporting Systems.

One day in 2007 Coy said the WMU Police ran out of paper copies for its crash reports, so they made the switch from beta testing to live with iyeTek’s electronic system. They haven’t written a paper crash report since. The reports are sent to the state electronically so it saves staff time and effort. Officers can have immediate online access to the reports, which are also regional-wide so they can see any agency’s crashes within the county. This same level of capability is also within iyeTek’s citation software, where tickets are electronically sent to the court.

Data sharing is also possible with iyeTek’s solution. Officers can run names on the company’s software for a huge database of information. Evidence management includes barcoding for easy tracking of items. For example, Coy said if marijuana is found on campus, it is taken to the lab and the electronic format tracks the location of it. In addition, the WMU Police is the depository for the university’s Lost & Found property. With 25,000 students, the process to record and keep track of a lost item was very time-consuming. ID Networks’ system processes it, barcodes it, and keeps track of it for them.

The Reverse 9-1-1 system allows for emergency text messaging for disturbances on campus. Coy said the department can let students and staff know what is going on instantly. The university also has a security alarm system, whereby doors lock electronically at certain times. Thousands of cameras can be brought up in the dispatch center at anytime.

Future Plans

Coy said the WMU Police Department has recently switched to Verizon 4G LTE as their in-car Internet provider. They want to upgrade or replace their in-car video systems to stream live video to and from patrol cars so Dispatch can see what is happening. Although they have been very happy with the Motorola MW10s in their patrol cars, Coy said the “software exceeds the hardware capabilities now, as the processors can’t handle the amount of software we run in the car today as compared to five years ago when they were first purchased.”

There is no budget line item for technology, according to Coy, as the WMU Police have several different budgets. An annual limit is set on software and hardware, but there are “one-time funds” too. The ID Networks solution cost just under $250,000, Coy said. The department uses grant funding for some of the technology deployed; however, sometimes the processes “take too long” for Coy. He would rather get a new technology quickly, as long as it’s approved by the chief. WMU Police is currently on a pilot project for regional data sharing and homeland security funding. Coy reports directly to the Chief of WMU Police, and luckily, he embraces technology. “Some bosses can be abrasive rather than embracive,” Coy elaborated. “The technology put in the patrol cars makes our officers more efficient, thereby allowing us to be more proactive,” Coy said. He said he feels a responsibility to be a leader in technology in both the patrol car and the building and wants to carry that technology standard throughout the department. “The technology is what we need because of the potential of what could happen,” Coy stated. Photo courtesy of WMU Police.

Published in Public Safety IT, Jan/Feb 2012

Rating : 10.0

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