First contract signed for county integrated public safety data project

Anoka County Board Chairperson Rhonda Sivarajah (right) and Chris Maloney (left), chief executive officer of TriTech Software Systems, which has been awarded the contract for the computer aided dispatch and law enforcement systems for the Anoka County integrated public safety data project, sign the contract documents at a ceremony at the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office Monday.
Anoka County Board Chairperson Rhonda Sivarajah (right) and Chris Maloney (left), chief executive officer of TriTech Software Systems, which has been awarded the contract for the computer aided dispatch and law enforcement systems for the Anoka County integrated public safety data project, sign the contract documents at a ceremony at the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office Monday.

The Anoka County Board Nov. 12, on the recommendation of the Anoka County Joint Law Enforcement Council and the board’s Public Safety Committee, awarded the contract for the installation of computer aid dispatch (CAD) for Anoka County Central Communications, mobile, law enforcement records, subsystems, system hardware, implementation and ongoing maintenance to TriTech Software Systems in an amount not to exceed $6,109,622.

Representatives of the county board, the joint law enforcement council, the Anoka County Fire Protection Council and TriTech, which is based in San Diego, Calif., took part in the contract signing ceremony Nov. 18.

Negotiations with vendors continue on the other two contracts – one for the fire records and the other for jail records and interface – and are expected to be completed in a couple months with full implementation of the entire project within 18 to 24 months.

The other two contracts will be less expensive than the first, with the total project cost estimated at $6.2 million.

The county has received legislative authority to bond for up to $8 million for the project.

According to Cevin Petersen, county division manager for finance and central services, the recommendation from the joint law enforcement council is to sell up to $8 million in capital notes to finance the project.

That proposal went before the board’s Finance and Capital Improvements Committee for consideration Tuesday (Nov. 19) and is expected to be on the next county board meeting for action Tuesday, Nov. 26, Petersen said.

Property taxes are paying for the project’s capital costs through a line item that appears on the tax statement of each property owner in the county.

The county board in December 2012 authorized the first payment of $1 million which appeared on this year’s property tax statements and will continue to do so until the debt is paid off.

The impetus for the project was because the current system is old, outdated and fragmented, according to Anoka County Attorney Tony Palumbo, who chairs the joint law enforcement council, which was created more than 30 years ago to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of law enforcement in the county. It comprises representatives from all law enforcement agencies in the county as well as city councils and the county board.

The computer aided dispatch system is 30 years old and the police records system is 14 years old, Palumbo said.

The project will put in place one integrated and all-encompassing system that combines records and data of all 11 law enforcement agencies and 15 fire departments in the county, plus the Anoka County Jail and 911 dispatch, he said.

“We are excited that for the first time in history, all agencies in the county will be integrated in the same public data system,” Palumbo said.

“As one of the first counties to have 911 central communications, law enforcement, jail and fire protection on one system, we really are setting the standard for communities nationwide.”

The TriTech contract has four additional subsystems, including an incident management application by Rhodium, BAIR Analytics’ crime analysis tools – the Coon Rapids Police Department last year contracted with BAIR for a crime mapping tool on the city’s website – staff scheduling by Kronos and CAD North’s simulator for testing and training 911 staff.

According to Linda Hanson, Anoka County Central Communications manager, the new “innovative” system will allow all areas of public safety in the county to share information.

“It will provide connectivity for all of us,” Hanson told the county board Nov. 12.

Don Abbott, Fridley’s public safety director, a member of the project’s governance committee and chairperson of the cost allocations and negotiations subcommittees, lauded the cooperation of the law enforcement agencies in the county through the joint law enforcement council and with the fire chiefs of the fire protection council in coming together to make this project a reality.

“I am so proud to be part of this project which has taken a lot of energy, thought and hard work over the past two and a half years,” Abbott said at the county board meeting. “It has brought all of us in public safety closer together.”

“We have created something new and unique in the state and nation … that will help us make a difference in the safety of our citizens.”

Abbott emceed the public signing ceremony Monday. “This is a momentous occasion,” he said.

“This is a national model and will change the way we work and gather information.”

This is a bridge to the future with a shared vision, Abbott said.

In this post-911 world, the public expects public safety agencies to share information in this way, he said.

“We have been inspired to reject the status quo and do things better,” Abbott said. “No one has done it like this before and no one said we can’t do it.”

Palumbo called the contract signing a milestone for public safety in the county and the for the county itself.

He paid tribute to the county board for its support and to members of the governance committee – County Commissioner Scott Schulte is a member – which has spearheaded the project, as well as members of its subcommittees.

“Many, many people have put in many, many hours to make this happen,” Palumbo said. “This will benefit all citizens of Anoka County.”

According to Anoka County Board Chairperson Rhonda Sivarajah, this is an example of government working together to achieve something “truly great.”

This has been a long process, but what is important is that everyone worked together, Sivarajah said. “That does not happen in other communities,” she said.

Blaine Police Chief Chris Olson, who chairs the governance committee, said work on implementing would begin Monday afternoon.

“This is a multiple step process to get to where we need to go,” he said. “This is where the heavy lifting begins, getting people prepared for change and getting them trained.”

According to Jerry Streich, Centennial Fire District chief and a member of the governance committee, a person calling in an emergency is only interested in the service delivery system, not politics or relationships.

This project will provide a system that is more efficient and accurate, Streich said.

Once the system is in place, building plans that are in fire department records will now be available to police when they respond to an incident at a school or a bank, while fire departments will have access to police records when they respond to a call at a residence where they might face a potentially “hazardous” situation of someone not interested in being helped by the fire service, he said.

According to Harlan Lundstrom, deputy chief of the Spring-Lake Park-Blaine Fire Department and fire protection council president, the norm across the country is for law enforcement, fire, 911 centers and jails to all have different systems and for officers and firefighters to have incomplete information when they respond to an emergency.

“With this new system, that all changes,” Lundstrom said. “Our first responders will be able to have a more complete picture when they respond to an emergency, which benefits our responders and the public.”

Chris Maloney, chief executive officer of TriTech, flew in from San Diego for the ceremony. The company he founded more than 23 years ago provides data systems all over the world, he said.

He has been impressed by the cooperation among the public safety agencies in Anoka County, something he has not seen in other parts of the country, Maloney said.

“A great public safety system required great people working together,” he said.

Maintenance costs will be shared by the county and cities as part of their annual budgets under formulas agreed to by the joint law enforcement council (police) and the fire protection council (fire), according to Palumbo.

In the case of the law enforcement component, operations costs will be determined by calls for service in each jurisdiction.

For the fire records component, the maintenance costs will be determined by an average of the calls for service over a five-year period, as well as market value divided by $1 million and population divided by 100.


Peter Bodley is at
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