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Chief says Y2K killed cops' crime-tracking computer

March 21, 2001

Chief says Y2K killed cops' crime-tracking computer



By DAN KULIN

dank@herald-mail.com

For more than a year the Hagerstown Police Department has been working without computer software that helps police track crime trends, but Chief Arthur Smith said he is hopeful a plan to get the department back online will be finalized soon.

"One of the things that's missing is if someone asks for crime statistics for their neighborhood we couldn't go back a year because it would take forever," Smith said.

And city detectives have to spend more time locating old incident reports, which affects productivity, he said.

"It certainly hasn't helped us but I can't point to any horror stories, nothing that's fallen through the cracks," Smith said.

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Smith said police officers can still look up whether someone has a criminal record by using another computer system.

Since the 20-year-old computer system city police were using stopped working last January, Smith said officers have been manually producing spreadsheets in order to track crime trends.

The old system stopped working because it was not Y2K compatible, Smith said. A replacement computer system was supposed to be up and running before January 2000, but the company hired to do the work could not do the job. Smith said the North Carolina company has been dropped by the city and will not be paid for the unfinished work.

Smith said that by the end of April, he hopes to have an agreement with a new software company to finish the work.

The new software is expected to be a big improvement over the old system, Smith said.

With the new computer system, officers will be able to log incident reports from laptops in their squad cars. Detailed maps showing where different types of crimes are happening also will be easy to produce, Smith said.

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