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Charles Town Police Dept. earns best practices award

May 18, 2010|By RICHARD F. BELISLE

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. -- A Charles Town Police lieutenant is bringing national recognition to his department for his work in creating a computer model that logs in and manages evidence and records generated by officers on the street through bar codes.

The Carl E. Nelson Best Practices Award, an annual honor given to small businesses and government functions like police departments, came through EDAC Systems Inc. of Fredericksburg, Va., said Randy Blevins, CEO of EDAC. He nominated the department for the award.

Lt. Chris Kutcher said the idea to build a system for his department came to him when he saw one during an 11-week training program at the police academy in Quantico, Va., in 2007.

"When I came here, the evidence room looked like my kid's bedroom," said Barry Subelsky, chief of the Charles Town Police Department. "Everything was stacked up everywhere. You couldn't find anything."

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On Tuesday, Subelsky showed stacks of boxes holding case records stuffed in corners in the station house.

"We've got tons of this stuff and we have to keep it, especially homicide cases, which we keep forever," he said.

Department employees scan the cases and transfer them to computer files, a slow, tedious process, Subelsky said.

Kutcher helped worked hand-in-hand with EDAC representatives designing the system, which eliminates the need for paper records.

"We just print out what we need," Kutcher said.

The system is tweaked and upgraded as needed, he said.

"I'll be talking to them again today," he said.

It appeared relatively simple when shown on the computer screen how things work.

The key is a bar code, which is assigned to every case. Thereafter, everything pertaining to the case - evidence, suspects, witnesses, victims - is attached to the bar code.

Once evidence is identified, logged and sent to the evidence room, it can be retrieved through its bar code.

"Before it was hard to find things in the evidence room because everything was all mixed up," Kutcher said.

"This system streamlines police work," Subelsky said. "It makes the officers more efficient so they can spend more time on the street."

It also makes reports prepared for use in court more accurate, he said.

Blevins said Charles Town is the model for other police departments around the country that are showing interest in the system.

EDAC is marketing it under the trademark, "Case FLOW, " Blevins said. The Charles Town Police Department got a "major discount" on the cost of the system, but he wouldn't say how much of a discount. Neither would Subelsky.

Blevins credits Kutcher with being the driving force in developing the software.

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