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NPD to obtain updated computer software

Jay Sowers / The Natchez Democrat —  Natchez Police Department Sgt. Vince Bates fills out a police report in the parking lot of the Natchez Mall. The department will soon obtain updated software to help police meet new federal crime reporting requirements. Bates, inset below, said  he fills out approximately 10 reports every day.
Jay Sowers / The Natchez Democrat —
Natchez Police Department Sgt. Vince Bates fills out a police report in the parking lot of the Natchez Mall. The department will soon obtain updated software to help police meet new federal crime reporting requirements. Bates, inset below, said he fills out approximately 10 reports every day.

NATCHEZ —Natchez police will soon be armed with a new weapon — updated computer software.

The department will soon obtain updated software to help police meet new federal crime reporting requirements.

Capt. Scott Frye said the federal government has mandated that Uniform Crime Reports be submitted to the government the same way from all departments. NPD currently does not have the necessary software to meet those requirements.

The Uniform Crime Reporting Program is “a nationwide, cooperative statistical effort of nearly 18,000 city, university and college, county, state, tribal and federal law enforcement agencies voluntarily reporting data on crimes brought to their attention,” according to the FBI, which administers the program.

The software update is essential, Frye said, because the department’s federal funding is based on its UCR reports.

“How much money you get it based on the UCR reports you submit,” he said.

NPD’s inmate booking software was updated a couple of years ago, but the department’s records management and computer-aided dispatch software programs need updates, Frye said. The CAD software, Frye said, has not been since the 1990s.

“I’ve been here 19 years, and we’ve used the same software since then,” he said.

The updated software will also enhance the use of the laptops patrol officers will use in their patrol cars.

Magnolia Bluffs Casino recently donated the funds to purchase the laptops, and the department is working to get them mounted in the vehicles and operational, Frye said.

“It’s more of a Windows-based system, instead of the old green screen, so it’s more user-friendly,” he said. “They will be able to sit in their cars like they’re sitting in front of a computer at the station and fill out a report.”

Natchez’s Information Technology Director Eric Junkin has said remote desktop software will allow patrol officers to log on to a desktop computer at the Natchez Police Department from laptops in their patrol cars at and access files.

Patrol officers currently handwrite reports or type them up at the station and print them out.

“This is going to let them enter (the reports) into the software,” Frye said. “We’re working our way to being paperless, to some extent.”

Frye said eventually the department would like to put its inmate log online for public view and enable patrol officers to access the department’s software from their cell phones.

“Some of that is going to take time, but with the updated software, there’s a feasibility of us being able to start doing some of these things,” he said.

The Natchez Board of Aldermen voted Tuesday to make a payment of $20,800 for the software upgrades. The payment is the first of four, which will be made over the course of two years.

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