By Katie Fallon

The city’s police department could soon have a much faster and easily accessible method of writing and storing the many speeding tickets and traffic citations it issues on a day-to-day basis.

On June 5, the city council unanimously voted to let a committee of city staff begin contract negotiations with Sunguard/OSSI for the installation and maintenance of an automated records management system for the police department. Since its debut on July 1 of last year, the police department has operated with a manual system of writing and storing everything from the usual tickets and citations to incident reports for traffic accidents and other crimes. Within its first year of operations, the department is on track to issue more than 20,000 tickets alone.

Those thousands of tickets, as well as all of the department’s records, are currently only available to staff in a paper format.

Sunguard’s offer, which was one of two contracts shortlisted from six submitted proposals, includes a base price of $663,015 for the system and installation and $81,711 annually for maintenance.

Police Chief Gene Wilson said the department has been working for six months to not only find a suitable vendor for the records system, but also to figure out what exactly it wants out of such a system.

“We’ve been working on this system for a while,” Wilson said. “This is real important to the police department. We’ve been doing all of our records management manually. There are a lot of things we can do once the system is automated.”

One of those things is alleviating a problem that both the police and fire departments have had since they debuted…false alarms. Currently, Wilson said out of 6,000 monthly calls, 900 are alarm calls and a majority of those are false alarms. Fulton County did not keep track of false alarm calls so there are no numbers to compare. The chief said the new automated system would not only track the number of false alarms, but also what districts have more and if certain residents have multiple alarms. With that ability, Wilson said the department could ask the city council to pass an alarm ordinance with a possible fine system for a certain frequency of false alarms.

“It can affect the community and how we do our job,” Wilson said of the alarm frequency.

Similarly, the department’s whole crime reporting and analysis functions are expected to become more accurate. CompStat, the program police use for compiling crime statistics and developing appropriate intelligence and enforcement, is certain to be more efficient because personnel will no longer have to enter incidents of crime from piles of handwritten reports.

“It will take away some of the paper we’ve got going back and forth,” Wilson said. “Ninety percent of what we do on our enforcement is driven by those CompStat numbers and the more accurate they are, the better we’re going to be.”

Barry Woodward, who is the chairman of the records management system selection committee, said the Sunguard system was chosen based on a scoring system in which the technical abilities of the system were 65 percent of the total score, while cost was the remaining 35 percent. Sunguard’s proposal was less expensive than the other finalist, New World Systems. Within the technical aspects, Woodward said being user friendly and able to be easily integrated were key.

“We’ve got to get them automated so not only the government can look at their records, but the public can look at what they need to as well because of open records,” Woodward said. “It should be integrated with other systems in the city. The court system could easily integrate with this records management system. It would be seamless between the two.”

When the Sandy Springs Police Department began operations last July, it did so after 31 years of the Fulton County Police Department keeping watch over the 37 square miles of the community. The department began with 86 sworn officers, but it now includes more than 100. The goal is to operate with between 120 and 140 officers.