WOODMERE — The village Police Department is in need of six new mobile data terminals for the cruisers at a cost of $20,821, according to Police Chief Sheila Mason. Microsoft ended support for Windows 7 on Jan. 14, which is the software that the terminals use.
Chief Mason explained that a mobile data terminal is the computer inside police cars. Officers use the terminal to gather information on individuals and vehicles through dispatch or the state program called LEADS, an abbreviation of Law Enforcement Automated Data System.
“We usually just update the system,” Chief Mason said on Feb. 5. “But the company we bought it from is no longer in business so we have to look at purchasing a new system.”
Now, Woodmere police are reviewing placing a Panasonic Havis tablet in each of the six cruisers, which was recommended by Chagrin Valley Dispatch. The tablet operates on Windows 10. The current data terminals were purchased in 2014 and operated on Windows 7 and 8, she said.
The department was granted an extension by the state to continue using the current terminals, but must switch over to a new system by March. Chief Mason presented the expenditure request to the Finance Committee on Feb. 3.
Councilwoman Lisa Brockwell, chairwoman of the committee, asked about upgrading the current mobile data terminal rather than buying a new one. She asked if a company could put new software on the current equipment.
Assistant Treasurer Pat Dawson said that the terminals are too old and cannot be updated.
“Part of the problem is the WiFi. What they already have is outdated,” she said. “The systems they have are completely obsolete.”
Law Director Frank Consolo said in Maple Heights, where he also is the law director, the city is facing the same issue and paying three times Woodmere’s cost. According to Mr. Consolo, the police cannot use LEADS without upgrading the terminal.
Councilwoman Glenda Todd-Miller asked about the longevity of the equipment.
“If we’re going to shell out the money, what’s the longevity that this system will give us? And what other systems are available?” she asked.
Chief Mason said that the department did research and this is the most cost effective option. She said that this purchase is a budgeted item.
Woodmere also has an upcoming cost of $2,679 for vehicle repair. Faulty catalytic converters in two 2016 cruisers and one 2014 cruiser damaged the ejectors on the cars. According to Service Director Frank Paparone, the converters were still under warranty but the ejectors were not.
Ms. Brockwell asked if it would be less costly to have a part-time mechanic work on the village’s vehicles that are not under warranty. Committee member and Councilman Charles Smith said that it is not a good idea to have a member of the general public work on police cars.
“We have to be careful,” he said. “When you have police cars, you can’t have just the general person working on them.”
Both the $20,821 request for mobile data terminals and the $2,679 cost for the vehicle repairs came before council on Wednesday for approval.