Sunday: Tulsa police frustrated with mobile computer system
BY JARREL WADE World Staff Writer
Saturday, June 02, 2012
6/02/12 at 4:11 PM
After three years and about $4 million, the Tulsa Police Department has a working but seriously flawed mobile computer system for its police cars that has left officers frustrated about safety concerns, a Tulsa World investigation has found.
The problematic project started in 2009 with contracts to buy Panasonic technology and Sprint Internet broadband. Their products haven’t worked properly for the needs of more than 250 police cars in service, according to emails and other records reviewed by the World.
Police and city officials have made continuous efforts to get the computer working at a standard to meet police needs, including changes to software and negotiations to make hardware changes, police Chief Chuck Jordan said.
The computers, as purchased, simply can’t handle the software police need to do their jobs, reports show. Tests conducted by city officials have shown the broadband Sprint network fails at numerous locations across the city and runs slower in Tulsa than other tested networks.
“We run out from lunch or admin duty at the (division) and find out we’re driving code to a hot call with no info, (can’t) reconnect while driving, and arrive without required safety info. This is huge, and it happens a lot,” an officer wrote in December 2010 on a private TPD forum, where officer’s logged more than 100 complaints.
The World reviewed about 8,000 emails and documents obtained through an Open Records Act request and interviewed numerous officers and other city officials regarding the computer project. The emails show problems officials have faced with the project since 2009, as well as possible conflicts of interest.
Panasonic and Sprint officials organized travel plans and booked hotel rooms for city officials to attend conferences where manufacturers hosted parties, dinners and presentations.
As patrol officers complained about the system, project managers continued to spend hundreds of thousands more on it despite its problems, records show.
Read more in Sunday's Tulsa World.
Tulsa Police Cpl. Will Dalsing holds up one of the Mobile Data Terminal System netbooks in April 2010. The computers haven't worked properly for officers, according to emails and other records reviewed by the Tulsa World. JAMES GIBBARD/Tulsa World file