Paradise Valley police continue trek into 21st Century

Paradise Valley Police Chief Peter Wingert at the department headquarters last February. (File photo)

Paradise Valley Police Chief Peter Wingert at department headquarters last February. (File photo)

Installing computers in police cars, placing license-plate readers at town entrances and using social media to quickly connect with residents are just a few examples of the latest technology used by the Paradise Valley Police Department to protect its citizens.

A work study session hosted May 12 by the Paradise Valley Council provided the police chief an opportunity to update residents on the latest steps taken to improve town safety.

The town puts a high premium on public safety: 43.6 percent of the town’s current budget — $8.9 million — funds the police department.

While the municipality is expected to spend up to $40.8 million through the remainder of this fiscal year, the General Fund — what is used for day-to-day operations — stands at $24.7 million.

The public safety line item represents about a $2 million increase from fiscal year 2014-15, mainly due to a $1.1 million addition to the Public Safety Personnel Retirement System and to continue to pay for technological upgrades.

The focus of new Paradise Valley police technologies comes from six recommendations handed down last year from a resident task force comprised of more than 50 residents who met over an 11-week period. The advisory committee was created following a series of home burglaries in late 2012.

During the May 12 work study session, Police Chief Peter Wingert provided the governing body with an update on implementation of both police technology and practices.

“One of the biggest thing we did was starting to connect with our community better,” Chief Wingert said of the initial focus of technology upgrades at the department. “CodeRED has been valuable, very valuable.”

CodeRED is an emergency notification system aimed at contacting residents during emergencies. Residents can choose how they would like to be contacted for these emergencies, either via receiving a call, an e-mail, text or through social media.

According to Chief Wingert, there are 6,700 Paradise Valley accounts connected to the emergency notification system while the department is also utilizing social media to better connect with residents.

“It is something that has been very effective for us,” he said. “That is something that we would like to continue down that path.”

The CodeRED service comes at an annual cost of $8,700 while the website — www.ci.paradise-valley.az.us/townhall — operates with a yearly expense of $3,500.

Police technology

Paradise Valley Town Council in fiscal year 2014-15 approved $1,482,924 worth of technology initiatives ranging from in-car computers that allow for electronic ticketing capabilities, to new photo radar technologies meant to thwart major accidents.

Since last year, the Paradise Valley Police Department has seen the purchase and implementation of state-of-the art records management programs and an overhaul of the department’s computer-aided dispatch system.

The need for the technological overhaul came from an analysis provided by the Paradise Valley Public Safety Task Force formed on the heels of a spree of residential burglaries toward the end of calendar year 2012 and an independent analysis provided by the iXP Corp.

“This has been completed and our staff uses it daily,” said Chief Wingert pointing out the usage of computer-aided dispatch and the department’s new records management system.

“I am satisfied with the New World systems upgrades. Most of the staff is more used to working with it and are more comfortable … it’s one of those things that will come with more usage.”

New World Systems is the Paradise Valley Police Department’s current CAD and RMS vendor allowing the municipality to keep about 10 years of data.

“We go through that periodically to make sure we are using the right modules,” Chief Wingert pointed out to council of the constant software tweaks and upgrades provided by the third-party vendor.

The Town of Paradise Valley pays New World Systems $142,000 annually for both its CAD and RMS system management.

In June of last year, the Paradise Valley Police Department activated a total of seven fixed License Plate Readers and provided those same readers in all police cruisers.

“I think this as been a really good implementation for us,” Chief Wingert said of the LPR devices. “We are hearing from the bad guys: ‘why would I go to Paradise Valley — they have cameras everywhere.’ This is a great message to have out there.”

LPR technology works by comparing an established list of wanted license plates produced by the Department of Public Safety and amended by the Paradise Valley Police Department against license plates captured by the LPR’s at all locations. If a match is identified, police dispatch and active patrol cars will be alerted and further action will follow.

Officers review the LPR information prior to stopping the motorist. The LPR technology comes at an annual cost of $128,000, police officials say.

Chief Wingert pointed out costs of $21,000 for cell phone data needs and annual cost of $5,700 for the Coplogic program that is being under utilized by the members of the community.

Northeast Valley Managing Editor Terrance Thornton can be contacted at tthornton@newszap.com

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