Police department asks for technology upgrade

The Marshalltown Police Department made a proposal to city council for a purchase of a new records management and computer and dispatch system.

Capt. Brian Batterson, operations division of the Marshalltown Police Department, said the current system the department has been using since 1998, Sleuth, is outdated.

“Our records staff currently has to hand submit all of our annual crime stats to the FBI,” said Mike Tupper, police chief. “That’s kind of silly in the year 2014 but that’s where we are at with the current software.”

After researching and checking out different vendors for the software upgrade project for about 18 months with a committee made up of different members of the local law enforcement, Batterson wants to purchase a software system from Zuercher Technologies that would allow them to go paperless.

“Basically the committee was leaning to Zuercher Tech for multiple reasons,” Batterson said. “The cost and the Marshall County Sheriff’s Office has just selected them as their vendor so we can communicate with them better. We can work together a little better for calls of service and also it will reduce our cost for servers.”

The estimated cost is $275,754. The cost would be a joint endeavor with the Marshall County E911 Center.

“It looks like the 911 obligation is going to be about $87,000 for the software,” Tupper said. “They’ll have to take care of their own training and maintenance fees and stuff like that.”

Zuercher Technology is also willing to work out a five-year payment plan with the city. For the total package, it will about $55,000 a year.

“We had set aside $80,000 for four years in the police department’s CIP plan to pay for software,” Tupper said. “We are obviously going to spend much less than that. After we get all the numbers pieced out of who is paying for what, the city’s obligations can be well below $55,000. I think it’s going to be probably closer to about $25 thousand for five years.”

Tupper will go to the Marshall County E911 board on Feb. 20 to discuss the project.

“I think it’s a good opportunity,” Tupper said. “It’s a good time for us to make this move and this is one of those things that’s not getting any cheaper either. We’re spending way too much staff time and effort trying to do the best we can with an outdated software system.”

Zuercher Technology works with other law enforcement agencies in South Dakota, North Dakota, Louisiana and with both small and large agencies. The company is also moving business into Iowa.

“We have an opportunity here to get on the ground floor,” Tupper said. “It’s a strong company and I think it’s a good proposal.”

Joel Greer, 2nd Ward council member, commented on the proposal.

“Your software is so old it reminds me of the old cell phones that are yay big, compared to the iPhones we have today,” Greer said. “I can’t imagine going that long with an old system that hasn’t been updated at all.”

Council is expected to approve or deny the proposal at its next meeting Feb. 24.