Fairfield looks to replace the ‘lifeblood’ of the police department

Fairfield is looking to replace its computer-aided dispatch records management system which is approaching 20 years old. The department is expected to make the purchase in 2021. The FBI is requiring agencies to report data to the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS), which Fairfield’s system currently cannot do. NICK GRAHAM/FILE
Fairfield is looking to replace its computer-aided dispatch records management system which is approaching 20 years old. The department is expected to make the purchase in 2021. The FBI is requiring agencies to report data to the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS), which Fairfield’s system currently cannot do. NICK GRAHAM/FILE

Fairfield aims to replace a nearly two-decade-old computer-aided dispatching record management system, which the police chief calls his department’s “lifeblood.”

The current system, if still in place after Jan. 1, could cost the department federal grant funding because it is not compliant with the Federal Bureau of Investigation's crime-reporting format for the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS). There's no requirement to change to that format, but Fairfield police Chief Steve Maynard said the FBI is pushing all police agencies to follow this format. According to the FBI, it's designed to provide more detailed crime statistics at the local, state and federal levels.

Maynard said the city is at the beginning of a process to research companies. Pennsylvania-based CODY officials have told Maynard they will be compliant with the FBI’s NIBRS format, but the chief isn’t confident that will happen in a timely manner.

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“If our … system cannot meet those standards … we’re going to be at a severe disadvantage for the possibility of receiving federal grants,” Maynard said.

One federal funding source the department usually seeks is the competitive Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grant from the U.S. Department of Justice.

Maynard said the crime stats are “all the same information” the department already reports to the FBI, but how it is inputted into the computer system is different.

Former FBI Director James Comey told the Senate Judiciary Committee in December 2015 that NIBRS would include "more than mere summary statistics … It gives the context of each incident, giving us a more complete picture. We can use it to identify patterns and trends, and to prevent crime."

The initial estimate to replace Fairfield’s CAD/RMS, which is responsible for every contact the department has with the public, is $1.5 million. In 2019, there were 30,000 calls for service, 26,000 of which were 911 calls for police and fire, as well as 52,000 non-emergency calls. The system also logs data records, including the 6,500 to 7,000 pieces of evidence in the property room.

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The annual maintenance fee isn’t known. CODY charges Fairfield $60,000 per year for its maintenance contract, according to the city records.

“We’re not going to pay the same price a large metropolitan police department would pay as far as maintenance fees, and certainly we’d have to pay more than a much smaller department would,” Maynard said. “Until we ask for proposals from some of these companies to let us know what their system’s going to cost the Fairfield Police Department, I won’t have an idea of what exactly it’s going to cost.”

The city is planning cuts to its budget amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, and the police department is already planning to push a property room renovation project and renovations to the department’s animal shelter that temporarily houses pets and other animals. Maynard said if the $1.5 million estimated price is too much, “it will be pushed to 2022, 2023.”

City Council is expected to vote on the CIP budget at its 7 p.m. meeting today. Meetings are open to the public but can be viewed online at Fairfield-City.org.

Facts & Figures

The Fairfield Police Department’s computer-aided dispatch and record management system has tens of thousands contacts with the public a year. Here’s how many contacts they had in 2019:

• 30,000 calls for service (this includes 26,000 police and fire 911 calls)

• 52,000 non-emergency calls

• 50,000 incident reports

In addition to calls for service and reports, it logs other department statistics, including:

• 4,000 arrests

• tracks 6,500 to 7,000 pieces of evidence in the property management system

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