Tuesday, December 11, 2001
Council Panel Approves $2.4 Million to Fix Glitches in LAPD Scanning System
By KIMBERLY EDDS, Staff Writer
A City Council committee yesterday approved spending $2.4 million to correct glitches in a police electronic scanning system used to process and store over 35 million handwritten arrest records and personnel documents.
The Public Safety Committee agreed to upgrade the Los Angeles Police Department’s system—officially the Automated Personnel Records Imaging System and Integrated Crime Arrest and Records System or APRIS-ICARS—by loaning the department $1.2 million out of the city’s reserve fund. That money would be paid back almost immediately by a $1.2 million state grant aimed at improving the technology of local law enforcement agencies. The remainder of the funding will come from a $1.2 million grant COPS-MORE from the federal government.
Mayor James Hahn must still approve the city’s loan.
LAPD spokeswoman Laura Johnson said the system, which has been in place since 1997, holds every follow-up report, traffic accident and missing person report taken by the department as well as storing personnel information such as commendations and work records.
“We’ve really outgrown the system itself,” Johnson told the MetNews.
There is currently a 10-week backlog in scanning the documents, Barb Garrett of the Chief Legislative Analyst’s Office said. The normal backlog for the system is two weeks, she said.
Johnson told the committee she expects an increase in the number of documents the system is required to store, placing an even greater burden on the already overextended system.
Johnson said the system began experiencing problems with the ICARS part of the system, which handles arrest records, at the start of Y2K and it has struggled ever since. Because the two parts of the system, ICARS and APRIS, which deals with the personnel files, are linked, when one system goes down the entire system goes down, she said. The system has been down for as long as 12 days in a row, Johnson said.
The repairs, which would take four to six months to complete, would include separating the two systems on to two servers so that a complete system shutdown would no longer be possible, Johnson said.
The system would also be altered to allow each of the department’s stations to access arrest records over the department’s network. With the current system, officers appearing in court are required to go to Parker Center downtown to get the documents they need for their court appearances.
Integrating with the network would save 72,000 field hours by reducing time spent by officers traveling back and forth from police headquarters, Johnson said.
“This would return real time to the field so officers could do police work,” Johnson said.
In addition to being used by officers, the ICARS portion of the system is used to send over 5,000 reports a month to citizens, she said.
Councilman Dennis Zine chided the department for demanding that the city extend the loan immediately without issuing a Request for Proposal to get a competitive bid.
“It appears to be that this is a habit of city departments,” Zine said.
“The police department comes to us at the last minute and says ‘we need to have this expenditure to have this work,’” Zine—a former LAPD officer—said of the department’s failure to issue an RFP.
Councilman Nick Pacheco balked at the idea of spending money to fix an already problem-ridden system when that money could be spent on automating the reports instead of having to scan the written reports in later.
An RFP has been issued for palm pilots which would be used by 2,000 patrol officers to electronically capture field data, Johnson said. Those RFPs were due Friday and the city is currently reviewing those proposals, Garrett said.
Johnson asked to have the city’s loan be put into an LAPD account so the contractor could begin working on it as soon as possible, but Garrett argued it should be placed in a TEAMS II account so there could be some oversight by the CLA’s office.
Garrett argued that an incidental lack of access to documents on the APRIS-ICARS system could potentially violate provisions set out in the consent decree which require certain documents to be viewable.
Copyright 2001, Metropolitan News Company