Police fear new computer dispatch system is putting lives at risk

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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - A Green Bay police detective says a new Brown County computer automated dispatch system is causing problems for Green Bay police and other area law enforcement.

A Green Bay police officer uses the computer in her squad car (WBAY photo)

"We have learned since we purchased this program that it's not what we thought we were buying," Detective Phil Scanlan, president of the Green Bay Professional Police Association, told us.

The $1.2 million XCAD system from Securus Technologies, which relays information from Brown County 911 dispatchers to emergency responders, was launched last month.

New law enforcement groups in the area are afraid the new system will jeopardize the safety of citizens as well as emergency responders.

An XCAD map at the Green Bay Police Department is supposed to show the exact locations of emergency responders. One of the city's fire engines is in the Greenland Sea above Iceland.

That's just one of the problems police are seeing.

"We should have officers struggling getting real-time information when responding to emergencies. We shouldn't have citizens who call 911 have to worry about whether their location is properly transmitted if their call's interrupted. Those are things we shouldn't have to deal with with our communication system," Scanlan said.

Detective Scanlan also says the new system is risking the safety of officers. He says XCAD isn't consistent about showing wanted records and criminal records of the people police encounter.

Scanlan also said if you get pulled over, it will take twice as long for the officer to write a ticket now.

"We have traffic tickets that take 30 minutes. Imagine an ordinary citizen gets pulled over for a traffic ticket for speeding on the way to work and you have to sit there for 30 minutes," said Scanlan.

Brown County Public Safety Director Cullen Peltier says it's a new system and some of these issues will happen.

"A lot of these, it's items that came up 'post-go live.' We had tested prior to the system going live, and it's just some of these things did not show up in the test environment, which is somewhat common. It happens with large software updates like this." said Peltier.

"We learned that these applications were meant for offices and multi-computer desk formats, not for squad car computers," Scanlan told us.

Even with these issues, Peltier says emergency response times are still where they need to be and he's addressing the problem.

"We're working with a law enforcement group that we set up specific for this project now after we've been experiencing some of these issues, and we're working with them, showing them some mock-ups of what they believe it's going to look like. We've put in the requirements to the vendor and they're working on those as we speak," said Peltier.

Peltier says the XCAD system had an update Wednesday night and he's seen some improvements.

He says if the glitch and design problems don't get resolved in a timely manner, the county will have to look at contingency plans, which include going back to the old CAD system or look at a whole new system.

"What we're really looking at is the commitment and improvement from the vendor, and if that isn't the case then we have to make a decision," said Peltier. "And like I mentioned earlier, we're probably talking weeks. We're not talking months here."