Technology, strategic plan concerns raised for Cary police

Analysis finds computer system antiquated, policies inadequate

CARY – This year, the Cary Police Department installed video cameras in its squad cars. One hiccup, however, is that the department’s computers are from 2005 and it could take four hours to download footage from those cameras.

Newer computer systems can download footage in 10 to 15 minutes, said Laurence Mulcrone, a principal at REM Management Services who was commissioned to perform a study on the police department for the village.

The technology issues were among the items the needs analysis considered during its 10-week study of the department. REM identified issues that could contribute to liabilities and inefficiencies within the department.

Mulcrone recommended a technology audit of the department’s computer systems.

He recommended putting a system in place that would give residents an option of filing reports from home for non-emergency calls, such as a car accident or a barking dog, or having a computer at the front desk to find out where to pay parking tickets.

Mulcrone said the department should re-establish its IT committee.

“You [could] have to have input from department personnel of ‘Here’s what’s working. Here’s what’s not working.’ And the chief would be well advised there,” Mulcrone said.

Trustee Karen Lukasik said the village would have had known that its computer system would not have worked efficiently with the squad car video camera system if it had a regular IT person in the department.

“I’m disappointed we bought these cameras, and we funded that, and we had inadequate computers,” Lukasik said. “All it’s done is create inefficiencies in our police department.”

There also are concerns about the lack of space at the department’s current facility. With the location next to the park district’s community pool, there are concerns about delayed response times. When there are people at the pool, the officers have to go slowly when clearing the area before responding to the call.

Mulcrone said there is a need for a strategic plan within the department that has buy-in from everyone. The strategic plan would state the goals and objectives for the department for the next three to five years.

When Steven Casstevens was police chief, before leaving for Buffalo Grove in June, he had created a mission statement, but there wasn’t buy-in from the rest of the department, Mulcrone said.

There also needs to be one place to look at policies and procedures. In the 1990s, there was a series of memos with rules. In 2008, Deputy Chief Ed Fetzer, who is currently the acting chief, created a standard of conduct document, which was implemented and used. When Casstevens was chief, he drafted a set of general orders.

There was confusion on the training and implementation of those standards, as well as possible unfairness on how the rules are applied, Mulcrone said.

Mulcrone added there is no formal performance evaluation for officers.

“I asked the officers, ‘How do you know if you’re having a good day, a good week, a good month or a good year?’ and I got a lot of shrugs,” Mulcrone said. “How do you award the officer who is performing tremendously, or discipline the officer who is not performing adequately?”

Village Administrator Chris Clark said it’s not uncommon for members of an organized labor union to not have an evaluation process. However, the village can work with officers to develop one.

“It’s a good thing we have people who want standards and feedback on the results of their performance,” Clark said.

Fetzer said there are evaluations for nonsworn personnel and those in the command positions.

With the study complete, Clark said, the village needs to develop an action plan with time horizons for each improvement.

“It’s going to be more than a one-year process,” Clark said.

With the completion of the needs analysis, the village is moving forward with its police chief search and developing a written professional profile for the position, Clark said.

Clark said there is no timeline; the village plans to coordinate the search itself.

“The board has a great respect for the internal employees and what they’ve been doing in the transition,” Clark said.

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