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Archive for Monday, March 31, 2003

New system slows down Wichita’s public safety

March 31, 2003

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— Wichita's new public safety computer system should improve and speed up crime data management. But for now, it's slowing things down.

The new system has created a backlog of unentered cases and delays for residents phoning in police reports or paying traffic fines while city employees are learning how to use it.

"Anytime you go to a new computer system, there are challenges that require patience," Wichita Police Chief Norman Williams said.

The Kansas Incident Based Reporting System was activated Feb. 25, replacing the system the city used for more than 20 years.

The new system will allow police to query case information better, categorize offenses and share information with other law enforcement agencies.

But officials concede getting used to the system has led to frustration for authorities and the public.

"We had the old system a long time and this is a different way of doing things," said Lt. Darrell Atteberry, who heads the records department.

The department has tried to keep customer service disruptions to a minimum, Atteberry said.

Residents phoning in crimes to the "case desk" have likely seen the greatest inconvenience.

Entering the data has become more time-consuming as officers and clerks adjust to the new programs, he said. Also, the new system requires more information than the previous one.

Residents calling near a shift change -- when officers generally phone in their reports -- can find themselves on hold for up to 45 minutes.

"We're going to separate those phone lines so citizens won't have to wait for officers to do their reports," Atteberry said.

Also, the department has had to pay overtime to officers waiting to call in their reports.

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