County 911 director presents facts after Burton council discussion

BURTON — An official with Genesee County 911 said a new $1.4 million computer-aided dispatching, mobile and record keeping system is a planned upgrade and police departments who opt-out of the new system won’t be penalized for doing so said Spring Tremaine, Executive Director of Genesee County 911.

She offered a response to the View Newspapers after an article March 4 presented what she said were incorrect statements. In that article, Burton officials said their police department would be penalized if it did not sign-on to the new 911 system.

The planned upgrade of 911’s computer-aided dispatch (CAD) and mobile system is something Tremaine said has been in the works since 2018 and it is more than just an RMS (records management system). She said it is designed to replace a 13-year-old system that is no longer current and has caused Genesee County 911 to fail its Law Enforcement Information Network (LEIN) audit.

She said the RMS is only a portion of what the new system will offer participating departments. The technology will send data from the 911 operators directly to patrol cars in the field so it can be accessed on a computer in the car, or in the office.

Officers will also be able to complete reports from their cars or at a desk in their office and different agencies that are on the same system can share files and case information.

“This is something we’re not doing right now – every department has its own deal going,” said Tremaine. “It’s not like this in most counties. I came here from Washtenaw County and all the departments are integrated on the same system.”

She said Genesee County police agencies working with different record keeping systems is also difficult for the prosecutor’s office because it is hard for them to go to different systems to view cases.

The upgrade will be paid for from the Genesee County 911 technology fund, which is there to improve 911 as needed and funding comes from the surcharge added to all cellular phone bills in Genesee County that 911 collects.

“You have to be on the cutting edge,” said Tremaine. “You can’t just operate on old analog equipment and expect the public to be best served.”

She said departments who opted out of the new Tyler CAD suite would not be penalized, but Genesee County 911 will charge departments who opt-out for costs to maintain their legacy programs and software involved in maintaining outdated equipment.

Currently, she said, she is only aware of two departments who will not join the new system – Burton and the Genesee County Sheriff’s Department – both for cost reasons.

Burton officials said they were considering not opting-in because the cost to join the system is $12,000 a year (Tremaine said it is more like $10,000), which is higher than the $7,000 Burton currently pays for its P-1 reporting system.

Haskins said the city switched over to a record management system called Premier One a few years ago and only recently finished updating its cases.

The idea of having every police department on the same system is so every agency on the RMS network countywide would be able to share information about crimes, and criminal activity, and the criminals who are arrested and charged.

Haskins said in the March 4 article he said he thinks 911 should have consulted the communities in Genesee County to find out what they wanted before signing a contract committing to the new system. He said further there was “not a vote by the general (911) membership.”

Tremaine said the upgrade has been on the 911 board’s radar for more than two years and that a committee was formed to investigate the new system back in 2018. That committee was made up of many police and fire personnel and it began to research what was available.

She said the committee reviewed every CAD system available and opted for a company that was big enough that it offered additional modules putting all agencies in the county on one system.

That narrowed the field of companies to Tyler and Central Square. Tremaine said Tyler gave the county a better deal.

She said 911 also saved money because the City of Flint was already using the Tyler system and agreed to allow 911 to use its license.

“This would not have happened without the City of Flint,” she said. “Flint was willing to share its license with the rest of county.”

She said the contract with Tyler Technologies was voted on by the board in the last quarter of 2020 and the decision was unanimously in favor.

She said the hope was all Genesee County departments would join the new system, but it was never something that was mandatory.

If all departments participated, she said it would “improve our interoperability” but it was never forced upon anyone.

“If they don’t want to come on, OK,” said Tremaine. “The goal is to get us all working together. It’s going to improve crime-fighting.”

Because of delays due to COVID- 19, Tremaine said the system is not expected to go online until late 2022 and communities will not start paying their dues for participation in the system until the beginning of 2023.

“What we’re buying is the newest, latest and greatest,” said Tremaine. “This hasn’t been installed anywhere else in the State of Michigan. It’s top of the line and will be the most recent version.”

Cost per each community is based on the number of officers. Costs to maintain legacy software is based on the number of mobile units per agency.