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Beltrami County Board OKs technology upgrade for Sheriff's Office

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Beltrami County Board OKs technology upgrade for Sheriff's Office
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

After a lengthy presentation Tuesday morning by Beltrami County Sheriff Phil Hodapp, the Beltrami County Board unanimously approved at Tuesday evening's regular meeting the purchase of $257,997 worth of software for a new reporting system.

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After a series of grants, the actual system will cost the county general fund $102,793 and replace the unsatisfactory CODY system currently in use. Because 28 percent of deputies' time is in transit for reporting calls, Hodapp said the saved staff time will result in a quick return on investment. He said he expects the new system will be in place with staff trained in its use by fall.

"I call this phase two of the project because phase one was buying a lot of hardware," Hodapp said.

The Council Commissioners commended the sheriff and his department for their research and choice of LEGT (Law Enforcement Technology Group) system for records management, computer aided dispatch, jail management and mobile solutions.

"I think the due diligence has been done," said Commissioner Jack Frost. "You've answered all my concerns."

Hodapp said the computers have been in the squad cars since December. He predicted the new LEGT software, manufactured in Minnesota and compatible Minnesota statute, will increase efficiency, productivity and accuracy. He predicted a 75 percent savings on citations and accidents and 100 percent savings on citation entry because everything will be accomplished electronically, rather than requiring manual entries.

Hodapp said members of his department interviewed five vendors before choosing the LEGT. They also invited four vendors for demonstrations locally and made two site visits.

Features of the LEGT software include eCitations and eCharging, which transmit data directly electronically to the county attorney's office and court. Because officers must be able to look up laws when making arrests to be sure charges are accurate, the system will call up the Minnesota statutes in their squad cars. The new system also provides automatic vehicle mapping so dispatchers know which officer is nearest the emergency call and the officers know which of their colleagues are nearest their positions in case they need to call for backup.

"It provides quicker response by public safety out in the field," Hodapp said.

Another efficiency will be in serving civil warrants. If a deputy is in a part of the county where a warrant needs to be served, he or she can print it out in the car, rather than make a special trip from the Law Enforcement Center. The system will also allow people to go to the Beltrami County Sheriff's Office website and check on crime history in their neighborhoods.

Hodapp said the LEGT is also compatible with systems used by Leech Lake, Red Lake and 120 law enforcement departments statewide. The Bemidji City Council also approved March 14 the Bemidji Police Department's purchase of the LEGT system.

"The other nice thing with this system is we can add onto it; we can grow it," Hodapp concluded. "Every time a new interface is put out, we'll have it already."

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