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Police bring $84,000 request for better records system to East Grand Forks City Council

After years of dissatisfaction with its records management system, the East Grand Forks Police Department is considering jumping to a different service provider, but it won't come cheap.

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After years of dissatisfaction with its records management system, the East Grand Forks Police Department is considering jumping to a different service provider, but it won't come cheap.

Switching to a system provided by Zuercher Technology would cost about $84,000, Police Chief Mike Hedlund told the City Council at its Tuesday work session.

"The department badly needs a new record system," he said. "Our current system is not meeting the needs of our department in a variety of ways."

The $84,000 represents East Grand Forks' cut of the overall cost of purchasing the system. The Polk County Sheriff's Office and the Crookston Police Department are expected to chip in if the agencies receive the necessary approvals.

Polk County would pay for the lion's share of the system with its cost share estimated at $220,000 while Crookston's portion is estimated around $80,000.

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If neither of those partners buy in, then the price would increase for the East Grand Forks Police Department.

The system is worth the price tag, Hedlund said, as the department's current records systems is very time consuming, has proven unreliable and comes with little technical support from its provider, Caliber Public Safety.

The department has had trouble getting assistance with record system issues from the company, with some CPS staff members admitting they know nothing about the product, Hedlund noted in his request to the council.

The department has used a system that has changed ownership several times since it was first purchased and implemented by East Grand Forks. Under Caliber Public Safety, the system has an annual maintenance cost of nearly $5,300 a year.

The department also pays $3,200 annually to another company for maintenance on its squad car computer software, a cost that would be eliminated with Zuercher.

Still, the annual maintenance cost of Zuercher would come to $11,600 for the department's second year of use-about $3,100 more than the current combined maintenance payments.

Zuercher's system has additional benefits that would justify the costs, Hedlund said.

"It is more, but not that much more dramatic when you consider what Zuercher would do for us," he said.

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Zuercher's system would work with the department's existing squad car computers and allow for automatic vehicle location, a safety feature Hedlund said would be valuable to the department.

The system also has the capability to track evidence-something the department currently does by pen and paper-and automatic entry of citation data.

Reporting of police department data also could improve with the new system. Hedlund noted in his request the department has not produced an annual report in several years because he does not trust the statistics compiled by the current record system.

"Under our current system, to get you folks a report about what's going on in your wards is almost impossible," Hedlund told the council.

The purchase would need council approval and would likely receive that green light contingent upon the Polk County Sheriff's Office and Crookston Police Department also being involved.

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