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Officers seek better safety technology
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McMinnville Police Department has requested an upgrade in technology in hopes of increasing safety for officers responding to calls.
“This is something that has become near and dear to our hearts,” said McMinnville Police Chief Bryan Denton. “Mobile data makes it safer for police officers because it gives them more information and faster.”
Denton asked the city’s Safety Committee members to allow him to enter a lease agreement with EmergiTech Inc. when the current agreement with a different provider ends.
“What we have in place now is an economical system,” Denton said. “We knew that when we bought it. It is what the department could afford at the time. We are at the point now where we need to upgrade and get a system that will mesh better than what we have now.”
The current system was purchased about six years ago at a cost of approximately $85,000. Costs associated with other systems started at $175,000.
Going inexpensive has problems, says Denton.
“The vendor that we have used, this is their first venture into Tennessee,” he said. “They have had lots of issues. For the most part, we have worked through those. Even today, they struggle with state compliance which, in turn, causes us compliance problems.”
The department’s current system also has limitations. Emergency 911 Center director Chuck Haston says his facility uses EmergiTech and a change by McMinnville Police Department will improve officer safety.
“One of the problems we have seen with the police department’s existing system is only 20 percent of the information we have can be received by the officers,” said Haston. “The system would allow full integration with the databases we have.”
Having matching systems will allow officers to receive all the information, including past times officers have had to respond to any specific residence and what the calls pertained to.
Denton says getting McMinnville Fire Department and Warren County Ambulance Service on the system would improve safety for their employees as well.
“For instance, if the fire department is going to a house, they will get information that the police department has been there three times in the last month,” said Denton.  “They will know that on one occasion there was a report of a guy there with a gun threatening. That is good information for a firefighter to have going into a situation.”
Among other benefits, the service is web-based and requires only an Internet connection. No additional equipment will be needed, and relocation from one facility to another will be easy.
“I know we are planning to move,” said Denton. “With this service, we wouldn’t have a lot of wiring inside the building. The new system is web-based. We won’t have all the hardware to move.”
Time is essential in making the change. The department’s contract with its current provider ends in August. It requires between 90-120 days to get the new system going and training for its use.
“I would really like to get this in place by the time our current contract ends,” said Denton. “The annual fee is $37,962, which is a little more than what we are paying now.”
The lease agreement is for five years, but allows the city to drop the service after two years. Total fees for the five-year period are $228,303. That includes a $76,455 first-year, up-front fee, and $37,962 annually for the next four years.
Annual fees do not include a one-time fee of $38,493 for project management, installation, configuration, and training for two officers at EmergiTech’s facility in Ohio.
Safety Committee members Jimmy Bonner, Mike Neal and Rick Barnes approved the change. The measure will be sent to the full Board of Mayor and Aldermen for its consideration Tuesday at 7 p.m.