The Prince William County Police Department is get a tech update, thanks to a $94,359 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice.
The department was awarded an Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance grant, according to county documents. According to the Bureau of Justice Assistance website, grantees can use the funding for “state and local initiatives, technical assistance, training, personnel, equipment, supplies, contractual support, and information systems for criminal justice, as well as research and evaluation activities that will improve or enhance law enforcement programs related to criminal justice.”
The Prince William County Police Department applied for the funding to digitize older records that are currently used on microfilm and microfiche systems, using a scanning and digital imaging service and software, according to Officer Tom Pulaski.
“We just did a major investment in a new records management system, and we’re constantly reviewing what older technology we need to address, and one of those was the microfiche and microfilm systems that we’ve had here at our Records Bureau for many years. Some of those records go back to the early 70s, when the department was formed,” said Pulaski.
According to Pulaski, the files include old police reports, criminal investigation documents, documents related to evidence, and unsolved case documents, which the department is required to keep for decades, per Virginia State Code.
“We’re concerned because some of the film is showing signs of deterioration,” said Pulaski.
With the new system, Prince William police will be able to scan and archive all of the information, making it easier or officers, detectives, and investigators to access information, and providing access to officers out in the field, said Pulaski.
“Right now everything has to be hand-searched on those systems…[they’re] very cumbersome to use, and now some of these parts are harder to get, they’re hard to maintain – just very cumbersome and time consuming to access,” said Pulaski.
Now that the funds have been awarded and approved, the Prince William County Police Department will begin the purchasing process over the next few months, according to Pulaski.
Pulaski said that he anticipates the transfer from the microfilm and microfiche systems to the digital system will take between six to 12 months.