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New software aids Norway police
NORWAY — The Norway Police department is receiving help from some new technology.
"We're basically coming out of the dark ages," said Norway Detective Gary Hill of the recent state-wide introduction of the Adult Prisoner and Probation Search Service.
Implemented just last week by the Maine Chiefs of Police Association, the software can connect every officer in Maine to an online database, allowing police to search probation and correction records across the entire state in just a matter of seconds. It includes adult inmates in the state's correctional facilities as well as individuals on probation. According to Hill, the database replaces a cumbersome system that demanded far more time and effort, particularly when it came to tracking those on probation.
Officers will be able to search by key terms such as name, gender, height and weight. By doing so, they will be able to find a picture of the person in question, along with a list of his or her crimes, other names used, and, for probationers, conditions of their supervision.
"Before, if we wanted all of this information, we would have to call every probation officer in the state," said Hill. "We have had the ability to check drivers licenses, protection orders, warrants and criminal history but really had no way to search persons on probation prior."
This was extremely impractical in a society where people are frequently on the move and come to Norway from all over the state Compounding the problem is the fact that some people are not 100 percent honest.
"We did have a recent incident with a person giving us his brother's name and date of birth as a means to avoid charges to a crime he was responsible for committing," explained Hill. "He produced no photographic ID only a name and date of birth. This came to light when the 'brother' received notice from the BMV about the recent charge."
The new database allows one officer to look up and find information regarding probation cases from their cruiser. Such accessibility could be very useful to the department as police officers will now be able to access the database via the wireless Internet with which all of the cruisers are equipped.
Norway Chief of Police Robert Federico said, "[Officers] will have this information at their fingertips in their cruisers."
Furthermore, the fact that the information is on-line and accessing it does not depend upon contacting a specific person, underlines another benefit of the new system; whereas probation officers are only on duty at certain times, the database is available 24 hours a day.
"The time of day and day of week we commonly would be looking for this information would complicate and/or delay obtaining this information," explained Hill, noting that access to this information is just as necessary on, "nights, weekends, holidays and state shutdown days when persons with this information were not in their offices."
According to Hill, the new service provides officers with, "technology at our fingertips, information readily accessible and immediate access."
Both Hill and Federico believe Norway will benefit from the new developments in a variety of ways. First, they believe that it will allow the police department to use its manpower and, as a result, taxpayer money far more efficiently.
Though the system is too new to measure its impact, Hill believes common sense dictates that this is the case, as it requires fewer steps to access information, involves less work on the part of officers, and provides a greater service than the system that preceded it.
"An electronic database is far more efficient than a paper system," he noted.
They both agree that the single greatest boon to the department from the increase in the amount of information available to officers is the consequential benefit it offers to public safety.
"This new program will make the citizens safer by having accurate information available so that action could take place quickly, should it be needed," said Hill.
Federico agreed with this sentiment, believing that greater access to information will allow the police to better accomplish the task of keeping the citizens of Norway safe.
"The more information we have, the better we can do our job."