COOS COUNTY — A year ago, every law enforcement agency in Coos County upgraded its computer-aided dispatch systems. Last month, the Coos Bay Police Department switched from that system to something new to increase efficiency.
It all started in 2018 when the old system became too expensive, requiring $56,000 per year to continue using it, according to the Coos County Sheriff’s Office. To save money, law enforcement agencies searched for a new system allowing officers to enter reports into a database where evidence is logged and shared with other departments, as well as the District Attorney’s office. It is also a system that allows law enforcement to more easily share public information, such as police logs, with the media on a daily basis.
Together, county law enforcement agencies began using eForce at the cost of $36,000 per year, said CCSO Captain Gabriel Fabrizio. For the CBPD, eForce cost $21,000 per year.
However, Coos Bay Police Chief Gary McCullough told The World that after a year of using the new system his department became “hamstrung.” He explained that if an officer had 50 pieces of evidence to log into the database, the old system took 20 minutes. On eForce, it took officers an average of three hours.
“We were hamstrung and couldn’t keep up with the number of calls coming in, getting reports done and down to (the District Attorney’s office), the evidence log and making record entries,” he said. “That’s why we made the change ….”
When CBPD signed up for eForce in 2018 with other county law enforcement agencies, McCullough said the Utah-based company came in to present and “it looked good.”
“We told them how we operate in Coos County, how we can share each other’s information but everyone has their own sandbox,” McCullough said. “We were told eForce could do that. Once they started their implementation process, they said their software doesn’t do that. We battled it for almost a year.”
Problems from start
Shortly after the CBPD made the switch to eForce, police logs stopped being sent to the media for a number of months. However, behind the scenes it was more than just staff getting used to the new system. As McCullough said, reports were taking hours for officers to complete.
“So our efficiency crashed,” McCullough said. “We worked as a group to get these things taken care of but it finally got to the point where the efficiency in my police department from dispatch to patrol to records was just gone.”
In November of this year, CBPD made the switch to a new computerized record management system called CMI Justice based out of Astoria. For this system, it costs CBPD just under $25,000 per year.
“We’ve had a couple hiccups and bumps but we’re back up on proficiency,” McCullough said. “We’re not behind on reports and evidence is getting logged the way it should be.”
Because the Coos County Sheriff’s Office and the agencies it dispatches for are still on eForce, CBPD is working with the jail to get old booking information back into the CMI system.
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“We’re fortunate that the city purchased a new city-wide server large enough so that when we decided to go with CMI, we could put CMI on it instead of being tied to the same server as the county and North Bend that still has eForce,” McCullough said. “We’re fully separated.”
Of course, because CBPD is using a new system, this means the agencies it dispatches for are using CMI now too. This includes the Coquille Police Department, as well as the Coquille Tribal Police.
“The main reason we made this switch was for efficiency and the fact that eForce software would not operate the way we needed it to operate,” McCullough said. “I can’t speak for the other departments on it, but for us, CMI is working and the police logs are starting to flow back the way they were prior to November of 2018.”
CCSO still using eForce
For the Coos County Sheriff’s Office still on eForce, Capt. Fabrizio explained there have been growing pains but that the average time to get used to a new system is around 18 months.
“We have made good progress in the last six months with making changes so it’s easier for other agencies to use,” he said.
The CCSO dispatches for the Bandon Police, Myrtle Point Police, Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service.
“There are a few things that are clunky that we have to work around,” said Dede Clements, one of the dispatch supervisors for the CCSO. “We needed a central main database that compiled all the information and (eForce) had to create that for us so each agency had their own main file .... Now we have one main file (that) all information feeds into.”
Clements added that there has been a different process writing reports, learning where to find information and also how to access it.
Because the CCSO dispatches for various agencies and is working around system hiccups, it created a project management team over the summer with a dedicated support manager from eForce that meets weekly to work out issues.
“We go over where things are, what is being worked on, basically keeping the project going forward and making any changes we need,” Clements said, adding that eForce has been “pretty receptive” to the process.
“I appreciate the fact that eForce is working with us each week so we are getting to the point where it is an effective and usable system,” Clements said.