Bethel Police Request $ 125,000 for System Upgrades


BETHEL – The police department seeks to improve efficiency and productivity through technology upgrades.

Bethel Police are seeking $ 125,500 to upgrade the department’s current computer-assisted dispatch and case management system software.

The proposed upgrades have been in the investment plan for “a long time,” senior selectman Matt Knickerbocker said on Tuesday, when the board voted to forward the request to the finance board for review.

Chief Stephen Pugner said the department acquired its current system around 15 years ago, believing the provider would expand its territory into the northeast – but that never happened.

“We thought other departments were going to follow us and that we would be one of the first in Connecticut (but) that never worked,” Pugner said.

Being the only agency in the North East to have the software has strained the department’s ability to operate as efficiently as possible, Pugner said, which is why he’s looking to team up with a new vendor: NexGen.

NexGen representative Jaime Scatena said the public safety solutions company currently serves 156 of Connecticut’s 169 municipalities and that its software would dramatically improve Bethel’s police operations.

With the department’s current CAD system, Pugner said Bethel officers cannot write accident reports outside of the station.

“The guys have to get off the road and use the station computers to do the crash reports,” he said. “It’s not effective.”

The department’s current system could be upgraded to allow officers to write reports outside of the station, Pugner said, but that would cost around $ 40,000.

“At this point, we don’t want to invest any more money in our current system,” he said.

With NexGen, Scatena said Bethel Police will no longer need to pay extra for system upgrades – they’re done automatically and free of charge as part of the service contract.

The software would also allow Bethel police to issue and submit tickets electronically from the scene of an incident.

“Right now we’re writing tickets by hand, going to the station and sending them to the state,” Pugner said. “This new CAD system would allow us… to enter the ticket into the computer system from the car, print it out and deliver it to the person, and it will go directly to the Crown after reviewing it.”

While a ticket can take around 15 minutes to handwrite, Scatena said NexGen’s software allows agents to write an electronic ticket in three to five minutes.

This time-saving aspect not only allows officers to resume patrol earlier, she said, but is “a great asset for the safety of civilians and officers”.

“Being able to disperse a ticket quickly to avoid being hit on the side of the road when a car has been stopped is very important,” Scatena said.

Pugner said the state will soon require all tickets to be submitted electronically, and the department will have two options if it keeps its current system – either spend tens of thousands of dollars updating it or ask someone manually enter the tickets into a computer at the station to send them to the state. The latter, he said, would be “very time consuming”.

The NexGen software’s $ 125,500 price reflects an agreement offered by the vendor, Pugner said, but it comes with a caveat: the city must sign a contract with the company by the end of the year.

“When we first evaluated this product, it was close to $ 200,000. The price went down a bit and then they recently offered us a deal which I think is hard to refuse, ”he said.

If the police department’s request is approved, Knickerbocker said the funding would come from the city’s capital and one-time fund – or perhaps its federal US bailout funds.

The Finance Council is expected to consider the request at its next meeting on Tuesday.

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