Decatur City Council gave its approval on Tuesday night to an expenditure that will eventually link the city police department's records system with those of Adams County, Berne and Geneva.
The idea was unveiled at Monday's meeting of the Adams County Commissioners by county Sheriff Shane Rekeweg. That body gave its okay for the county to allow the three communities to tie into its Sungard Management System, so long as the councils of the three communities approved.
Decatur did so last night, as did Geneva's town council, tentatively. Berne is expected to address the issue at its meeting next Monday.
Decatur's council gave the green light to an expenditure of $16,032.84, which will cover licensing fees for the 17 officers on the police department. Those funds will come from money already budgete for dispatchers.
In the next couple of months, the city will close its dispatch center at the police department and have all its calls handled through the communications center at the county jail. The savings this year alone could amount to as much as $100,000.
The $160,000 will be a onetime-only cost to link to Sungard. Annual costs to stay in the system will be $2,880, and the department will also have an annual support (repair and maintenance) cost of $490.
After the first year, however, the city's costs will amount to some $14,000 less it is now paying for its current records system.
The county has put a considerable amount of money into establishing the Sungard system, "and we can tag along at a minimal cost," Decatur Police Chief Ken Ketzler told council.
Once everyone is plugged into the new records management system, he continued, each department in the county will be able to access the records of the other departments, a highly valuable tool for all the departments. "That's the big thing, that we can coordinate (investigations, etc.) with everyone else," the chief added.
At present, a person seeking a background check on someone, such as a new hire, is able to access only the records of the Decatur department, Ketzler noted.