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Panel Recommends Spending $3.5 Million-Plus To Upgrade Police Dispatch & Records Systems

Matter now goes to City Council for likely final OK

Published on Thursday, November 19, 2020 | 5:50 am
Police Chief John Perez (upper right) meets remotely Wednesday with the City Council’s Public Safety Committee. Committee members include (clockwise from top row, center): Mayor Terry Tornek, Councilmember Steve Madison, Vice Mayor Tyron Hampton and Councilmember John J. Kennedy, the committee chair.

The Pasadena Police Department is now another step closer to the 21st Century when it comes to technology.

That step was taken Wednesday, when the City Council’s Public Safety Committee unanimously recommended the city spend almost $3.6 million on two new computer systems that will upgrade the PPD’s dispatch and record-keeping capabilities.

The systems – known as CAD, for Computer Aided Dispatch; and RMS, for Records Management System – are ticketed to replace the antiquated apparatus the PPD is currently using, which Police Chief John Perez likened to “trying to run a Pinto on the fast lane on the freeway.’’

By a 4-0 vote, the Public Safety Committee sent a recommendation to the full City Council to enter into a five-year, $3,587,325 contract with Versaterm, Inc., of Ottawa, Canada, for the software, implementation and support services for the “CAD-RMS” upgrade.

The Public Safety Committee consists of Councilmember John J. Kennedy (the chair); Mayor Terry Tornek; Vice Mayor Tyron Hampton; and Councilmember Steve Madison.

Versaterm was one of six bidding companies – none from California – to vie for the Pasadena PD contract. The winning bid was selected after staff from the PPD and the city’s Department of Information Technology reviewed proposals over a wide range of criteria, including cost and “ability to perform.”

According to a report from the PPD, Versaterm systems are currently used by 12 California police departments, including Anaheim, Bakersfield, Fullerton, Inglewood and Simi Valley, as well as by four county sheriff’s departments.

The full council is expected to give a final OK on the Pasadena-Versaterm deal at its next meeting.

It would mark the third time this year the council has approved funds to upgrade PPD technology, following a $420,000 expenditure in April for new helicopter cameras, and an $80,000 outlay in September for three new Automated License Plate Readers for patrol cars.

Pasadena’s new CAD-RMS systems — which the police report estimated would take nine months to get up and running, once approved – would replace a system provided by the West Covina Services Group (WCSG) that Pasadena has been using for the last 11 years.

WCSG had announced in 2019 that it would be ending product support for the services it provides the PPD by the end of 2021. That announcement hastened the city’s push to upgrade – but City Manager Steve Mermell had been pushing for the improvements for years.

“The replacement of the CAD-RMS system has been a high priority for me since becoming city manager,’’ Mermell said Wednesday. “We’ve been really operating on borrowed time using the West Covina Service Center.’’

According to a Police Department report sent to the Public Safety Committee, “PPD relies on the RMS for the creation, storage and administration of official police records, such as crime reports, investigative reports, court documents, and criminal histories.

“Additionally, these systems are used for jail booking records and prisoner management, property and evidence inventory management, crime analysis and case management for detectives. Together, the CAD and RMS system allows for strategic and tactical decision-making through the access of critical information, and provides complete, instantaneous situational awareness.”

Mermell also said the new CAT-RMS system will be “key” to helping Pasadena comply with California’s “Racial and Identity Profiling Act” (RIPA) of 2015. That law requires law enforcement to collect racial and other demographic data on police stops and report the information to the state attorney general.

Perez agreed, saying, “For us to move forward with RIPA and other issues, we’re going  to need (a better) CAD-RMS system.’’

The chief also said the new systems, particularly the record-keeping software, will greatly increase the PPD’s efficiency in processing the mounds of data it must navigate every day – and free officers to patrol the streets rather than be tethered to keyboards at police headquarters.

The current systems, Perez said, have been “very slow and very difficult for us with the amount of data that we have.’’

“The new CAD-RMS will also provide us with the neighborhood policing model that I believe we need in terms of keeping officers more visible, (with) more access to information and being able to really spotlight crime,’’ Perez added. “We need this system to move forward with that.’’

According to Christina Kuo, senior project manager for the city’s Department of Information Technology, “Together, these two systems allow for strategic and critical, tactical decision-making through the access of information and provide a complete, instantaneous situation awareness.’’

Kuo – in response to a question from Kennedy – said that another plus for the new CAD-RMS system would be its interactivity with police body cams.

“There is certainly an interface with the (body cam) system,’’ Kuo said. “The information between the two systems will (provide) a flawless interchange … that eliminates the manual entering of the data between the two systems. The integration points are definitely built in.’’

Overall, Mermell added, the new systems will be “fundamental to the operations of the department.’’

“It’s the system that underlines all that they do, all of their transactions, all of their dispatch, all their calls, all their responses,’’ Mermell said. “Just as the way the Finance Department tracks expenses and activities in the financial system, the Police Department tracks it in the CAD-RMS.’’

According to the PPD staff report, costs for the new system would break down to $1,855,670 for initial implementation; $1,453,305 for maintenance and support in years three through five of the contract; and a 15 percent ($278,350) contingency allowance.

The full PPD report on the proposed CAD-RMS upgrade can be found here (scroll to Page 6).

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