Local News

Wilson Law Enforcement Decides 'Smart COP' Flunks

Posted July 9, 2007 7:09 p.m. EDT
Updated July 9, 2007 9:20 p.m. EDT

— After four years and hundreds of thousands of dollars, Wilson's two law enforcement agencies scrapped a technology system, saying it never worked. Its replacement will cost more than $1 million.

In 2003, the Wilson Police Department and Wilson County Sheriff’s Office adopted Smart COP software to help them work together more efficiently.

The departments are the only two in North Carolina to use Smart COP.

The software was supposed to provide an integrated, mobile environment in which officers and deputies could share information, file reports and look up suspect information from their patrol cars.

The system increased “the visibility of officers being in the neighborhoods more often. ... They are sitting in their cars where the crimes are occurring,” said Maj. John Farmer of the Sheriff’s Office.

Farmer and Police Chief Harry Tyson added, however, that the software never worked properly. And after what officials called four years of frustration, the departments are giving up on Smart Cop.

“We knew when we went live with that (Smart COP), that all the pieces at that time were not working. I reckon we were optimistic to think that there was going to come a day when the mobile piece would work,” said Tyson.

“I think it’s been frustrating for all parties,” said Farmer.

In 2005, the agencies sent a letter to the CEO of the Florida-based Smart COP company expressing “total frustration and dissatisfaction.” For another two years, the company promised to fix the software.

WRAL's calls to Smart COP spokespeople were not returned.

In April, Wilson city and county agreed to spend money for a system from Open Systems Solutions, Inc., which many law-enforcement departments in North Carolina use.

The OSSI system will cost more than $1 million and should be working within six months to a year, officials said.

Tyson evaluated the cost for the Smart COP system and the switch to the new system.

“There were some benefits. Money lost? I don't know if it was money lost. It’s just the loses were stacking up, and we couldn't keep going that route,” said Tyson.

Officials said they derived some benefits from the hundreds of thousands spent on Smart COP.

“For right now, it’s (the money) lost. Well, you can say lost. We got a system. We got information for the two agencies to come together,” said Farmer.