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Syracuse police upgrading decades-old report filing, phone systems

Syracuse Police.jpg
WRVO News file photo
Syracuse Police Department Headquarters.

The Syracuse Police Department is making some much-needed technology upgrades to systems that are decades old. That includes the system police officers use to fill out reports.

First Deputy Chief Joe Cecile said the vast majority of officers’ time is spent filling out reports. Just one call might require 5-6 reports that each have to be filled out separately.

“Eighty percent of what they do is report writing,” Cecile said. “We want to get them out from behind the computer back on the street, engaging with the public, doing police work.”

The new reporting system, which was recently approved by the Common Council, will automatically prepopulate information, like the name, address, date, time and type of call, into each report for officers. The system is integrated with CAD, the computer-aided dispatch, which gets the information from 911.

“So even before he or she sits down in front of the computer afterwards to do the report, much of the information has been prepopulated,” Cecile said.

The new system is also Right to Know compliant. Officers are required to document every interaction with the public, with further documentation needed when officers ask to search a person or vehicle.

The department is also upgrading its phone system, which hasn’t been done in 30 years. Cecile said calls are getting dropped and some divisions, including the police chief’s office, are losing voicemails from the public, who are calling with complaints and concerns and not getting through.

“It’s embarrassing for us, but it’s more frustrating for them,” Cecile said.

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.