Alabaster police could get tech upgrade

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

The Alabaster City Council likely will vote during its Sept. 4 meeting on a plan to modernize the Alabaster Police Department’s computer equipment, council members announced during an Aug. 15 work session.

During the work session, Danny McKinley, a representative from the Southern Software company and the former police chief of Atmore, presented details on the new computer system.

The department currently uses outdated software to manage its records, and officers are only able to file their reports by using a computer at the Police Department building, said Alabaster Deputy Police Chief Curtis Rigney.

If purchased by the City Council, the Southern Software program will allow officers to file reports by using laptops in the field. The new software also will allow officers in the field to receive detailed information about calls assigned to them, McKinley said.

Once an officer receives information about a call on his laptop, the officer will also be able to see a call and charge history associated with a particular residence or individual, McKinley said.

The software also will allow officers to see a satellite-image map of an area before he responds to a call, and will allow the department to more easily manage its police reports from 2004 to the present, McKinley said. The system will allow officers to quickly tell if a subject has any outstanding warrants, and will allow police officials to easily track officers’ statuses.

“This will be a huge benefit. It will make us run more efficiently and it will increase the safety of our officers,” Rigney said, noting officers currently have to travel to the department to write and file their reports whenever there is a lull in calls. “It’s going to benefit the police department and the citizens as well.”

Alabaster City Administrator George Henry said purchasing the program and training likely will cost the city about $250,000. An annual maintenance fee will include any upgrades to the software, McKinley said.

Henry said the Alabaster Police Department has already acquired the laptops required for the upgrade for free from the Department of Defense.

“Anything to get our city into the 21st century, I’m for,” said Ward 6 Councilman Scott Brakefield.