Ottawa Co. tackles police data management problems

Ottawa County, New World Tyler Data Management System
Representatives from police agencies in Ottawa County meet to report problems with their data management system. (June 15, 2017)

OLIVE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — It’s been a year and a half since Ottawa County implemented an expensive new data management system for police and it still doesn’t work right.

The New World Tyler Data Management System cost the county $1.5 million, but emergency response agencies using it have seen a number of glitches.

On Thursday, County Administrator Al Vanderberg brought together representatives from several departments to talk about the problems as the county works toward a way to fix them.

“I think everybody would acknowledge there’s been some communication difficulties. I think we know some sources of the issues and problems, but what kind of led me to call to convene this group was the realization that I hadn’t talked to anybody who had the same list of problems,” Vanderberg said.

One of the attendees complained that sometimes the system won’t register everyone on duty.

“If you get a call from another deputy that says, ‘Hey, you’re working, right?’ ‘Yeah, I’m working.’ ‘Well, you’re not on the map or you’re not on the system,'” he said.

“At the end when you would do an error check, the whole narrative portion of your report would be highlighted and then if you accidentally hit a button, your whole narrative would disappear,” another person told the group.

The biggest problem law enforcement agencies cited was lag time and freezing in mobile in-car units. They also noted lack of connectivity, software issues and difficulties navigating the touch screen.

“We have that list of frustrations from the officers and they are the end users, the men and women out on the street. It becomes a concern to me whether it could be a safety issue for our officers, also to make sure that we have proper response times,” Ottawa County Sheriff Steve Kempker said.

Kempker said that if not for radios that allow for direct communication with dispatch, response times could be slowed.

He said the disconnect seems to be the county is running 2017 software on computers that are six years old.

But Tyler Technologies, Inc. says it is confident it can fix the problems.

“What our plan is from the Tyler team is to go back and look at a categorization of these issues,” a representative from the Texas-based company told the group.

In an effort to help resolve some of the problems, the county will be testing out 14-inch in-car screens instead of the standard 12-inch screens in between three and six vehicles.

The county is also launching two task forces — one for police and one for fire departments — to work on the problems. The system is designed to work for both police and fire, but fire opted out because of the difficulties.