City Debates Over Which Department Gets Computer Upgrade First

Friday, April 25th 2014, 7:31 pm
By: Emory Bryan

Right now there's a debate over which city department should get a new computer system first; accountants or police.

Voters approved new computer systems for the police and finance departments, but the city can only install one at a time. Right now the accountants are in line ahead of police, but a city councilor wants to switch that around.

There are shelves at the Tulsa police department full of arrest reports and rooms full of details on crimes and criminals; it's all on paper, except for what's on microfilm.

Captain Karen Tipler is looking forward to the day when all of the information is online and connected. She believes the knowledge, now locked away in file folders, could help officers in the field.

"The key is, once we get the information, and once we get it out to officers, that's the key to making it faster for officers to solve crimes; getting that information in so it can come out faster, so in a way, I guess we can solve crimes faster," Tipler said.

The police computer system that could tie all this together will take years to build, but the whole project might be delayed so the city finance department can get a new computer system first.

The city council was told the city can't do both at the same time.

"Just the availability of resources citywide to carry out a project of this size carries with it a lot of risk, so I would contend, if we're going to do this, let's do it right," said city of Tulsa I.T. Director, T.L. Cox.

Several councilors would like the police department to get its update first; though both projects are considered essential.

The police system is older, parts of it dating back to the 1970's, and councilors consider it to be more critical because it's a matter of public safety.

"We are the only municipality in the area that's still relying on this antiquated system and that means we can't share information in real time with other agencies, and it puts the city of Tulsa at a real disadvantage when it comes to law enforcement," said Tulsa City Councilor G.T. Bynum.

The finance computer is $10 million; the police computer is $6.5 million.

The decision will be set in the next budget that's in the works at the mayor's office right now.