Police software contract

$677,000 is some serious dollars.  Note that this includes software as well as some salaried positions.

We received information that we would be voting on this at a 4 PM meeting in an email that arrived at 1:28 PM…  As such I did not feel that I had done due diligence in preparing and abstained from the vote.  I do however have a tremendous amount of respect for Chief Peterson.  There are a number of concerns and rushing our vote so that IBM can better meet their 4Q numbers seems silly.I figured that I would share the info I received and you can judge this for yourself.  There is a bit of a 1984 vibe to this, but at the same time this is simple data that already exists.  At the end of the day if this makes officers safer and more efficient it will be a good investment.

Here is a note from Chief Peterson to Randy Staver (official council software guru):

Randy –

Over the past year, we have had 3 meetings with council to discuss this project. We have tried diligently to respond to any questions and have issued invitations to council members on 3 additional occasions to discuss any issues or concerns.  Tim Heroff, having met with you, spent a great deal of time addressing the issues you brought forward and going over the details of this project.  I’m not sure I can add a great deal to the discussion that has already taken place at this point, but will try to respond to the issues you reiterate in your email.

The metrics used to evaluate the effectiveness of this project are:

  • Effectiveness.  Intelligence Led Policing requires that we identify and focus our resources on our most prolific offenders.  At this time, we have no viable means of doing so.  Our inability to access and analyze data necessitates that we rely on a combination of manual records searches, intuition and luck as a means of deploying resources.  Data driven decisions will direct our resources where they can be best utilized and result in more aggressive enforcement action against our most active offenders.  This in turn effectively reduces crime in our community.  While crime rates can provide a poor measure of effectiveness due to the wide range of variables involved, information regarding specific crime trends, arrests and clearance rates do provide a basis for comparison.
  • Efficiency.  The alternative to the implementation of Intelligence Led Policing is less focused policing requiring greater saturation in order to respond to crime trends after they become apparent.  Officers currently cost about $125,000 apiece per year to deploy.  Supplanting the ISII project with additional officers will yield 5 1/2 positions – or 1 additional officer on the street at any given time.  Lacking any means to identify where and how that officer should be deployed, however, it is not realistic to expect that one additional officer on random patrol can result in any meaningful impact on public safety.  The costs, however, will remain in future budgets and increase as we are forced to add more staff to accommodate this outdated method of policing. ISII on the other hand, will allow us to limit future costs while achieving the greater effectiveness afforded by better resource allocation.
  • Safety. As I expressed at the council budget meeting, our officers, and subsequently the public, are at greater risk when they do not have the information they need to effectively respond to criminal activity in their patrol areas.  That information often times exists, but we cannot access it, analyze it or utilize it in real time because we have no means of extracting and comparing the data we currently have.  I cannot quantify the “return on investment” that timely and reliable information represents.  Suffice to say that I believe we have an obligation to provide our officers with the best and most reliable information we can so they can do the job we expect without subjecting them to the unnecessary risks that result from a lack of information.

You are correct that data is the key to effectiveness. Our problem is that we have too much, not too little data.  So much, in fact, that previous methods of collecting and assessing data are no longer effective.  The ISII project will not encompass the vast quantity of data analyzed by agencies such as the CIA.  It will be scaled appropriately to our jurisdiction and allow us to actually use the data we have – effectively.

We do not intend to do site visits to other cities that utilize Identity Insight.  As you indicated, the agencies that are currently utilizing this technology are doing so on a much greater scale and in different capacities.  As such, site visits, as much as we’d like to travel, do not provide any meaningful comparisons that would justify their costs.  New York City can provide essentially the same information we currently have for their multimillion dollar intelligence/homeland security technology projects, but there is little that we stand to gain from such a comparison. I am not in favor of spending thousands of taxpayer dollars to fund trips for the purpose of viewing agency operations that do not bear a direct relation to our own.  I agree that asking an agency if they would make the same investment if they had to do it over is fairly simple.  I disagree, however, that the question can only be asked in person. We have asked and it is clear that the agencies currently employing this technology are vested in the process with no intent to revert to their previous, less effective way of doing business.

We contacted DA, a recently retired detective/intelligence officer from Toronto PD who was instrumental in the Toronto/IBM ISII project.  When asked if he believed that Toronto would invest the money and resources into the ISII project if they had it to do all over again, A said, “ Yes, and even more.”

We contacted with AE, who is currently a senior intelligence analyst with Toronto PD.  E said that they are satisfied with the ISII product and cannot imagine going back to the way they had to do business prior to ISII.  What previously took days for their analysts to accomplish – if they were able to do the requested analysis at all – is now reduced to a matter of minutes.  With ISII they are actually able to provide a clear message.  Prior to ISII there were many times when they had to deny a request for information from other officers, city officials or the public because they did not have the ability to find the information requested.

The $677,000, (that includes project management support costs), is the total cost.  We do not, however, believe that the implementation of ISII will negate any future need for the development of technology within the Department.  We are committed to employing the most effective and efficient means of providing public safety in our community and intend to continue to evaluate and pursue the best means of doing so.

We have addressed contract issues with IBM and developed a Statement of work that is far more detailed and specific than what we typically see in these types of projects and certainly more specific than we have had in the past with other vendors.  I believe it effectively addresses cost issues if performance measures are not met.

In regard to IT support, we are very aware of the IT demands of the project and have structured our Intelligence Unit and Planning and Technology Unit to accommodate it.  The CIP includes funding for project management and on January 19th we will be hiring a crime analyst with the education and experience to successfully integrate this project with intelligence operations.  As far as City IT support, the Statement of Work estimates that 40 hours over the course of the project implementation will be needed for infrastructure and network set up.  City IT has estimated that this project will take four hours per month for regular maintenance.  All other IT support will be provided by existing police department or County IT staff already dedicated to public safety support.  This arrangement is similar to how Toronto PD has structured their internal/vendor support team.  Toronto PD staff mentioned that IBM has provided excellent technical support throughout implementation and continuing through production.

Finally, while I understand you are in no rush to make a decision, I am very disappointed that you feel it is not necessary to do so.  Last year, with unanimous council approval, we completed a reorganization of our Department in order to implement Intelligence Led Policing.  Through reorganization, reassignment, training and education, we are positioned to move from a reactive agency to a proactive one with the ability to leverage our ever growing volume of data in order to deploy our resources better, faster and cheaper.  The last component of this planned transition are the technology tools. The bottom line is we are only as good as our information and, right now, that’s not good enough.  I strongly disagree with your assessment that we can continue to delay this project with no implication to public safety in our community.

Your message clearly indicates that you continue to be concerned about the amount of money involved and resource implications.  I hope, given our past record, that you appreciate the fact that we are also vitally concerned about these issues.  We have a long record of project and program implementation that has resulted in considerable savings for the city at the same time we have continued to increase our effectiveness.  Crime rates and response times are at historic lows at the same time we cut our budget by 1/2 million dollars to balance the City’s books.  This is not an anomaly as we have consistently operated in the black saving the City an average of 1/2 half million dollars every year for the past ten years while other departments and agencies have struggled with deficits.  In short, I believe we have demonstrated the foresight and fiscal responsibility to support our contention that we do not embark on such projects lightly, that we have done our homework and that we wouldn’t be making this request if we were not sure that it was in the best interest of public safety and the community we serve.

Attached is the Statement of Work for the ISII project should you or other council members wish to review it.

–          Roger

If that wasn’t enough reading I am happy to provide you the statement of work if you would like.

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