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Aldermen backtrack on records management

Poplarville’s Board of Aldermen backtracked on a new records management system for the Poplarville Police Department after receiving pressure from the Pearl River County Board of Supervisors to purchase a different system. The department needs a new records management soon to be in compliance with federal reporting requirements.

The Board unanimously authorized purchasing a system from Automated Records Management System (ARMS) at a cost not to exceed $17,500 during a previous meeting.

At Tuesday’s meeting the Board rescinded the decision to purchase an RMS system from ARMS. Board member Kevin Tillman voted against the decision and Board member Anne Smith abstained. City attorney Manya Bryan informed the Board that it is possible ARMS could decide to sue the Board for rescinding the decision.

The Board of Supervisors is working with the city of Poplarville and the city of Picayune to consolidate E911 dispatch services. The consolidation plan includes dispatch, a records management system and a jail management system. The Board of Aldermen intend to enter into an interlocal agreement with the Board of Supervisors for the consolidation, but have not done so yet.

County Administrator Adrain Lumpkin informed Mayor Rossie Creel and Police Chief Danny Collier that the county would increase the cost of housing Poplarville’s inmates in the county jail if the Board moved forward with purchasing the system instead of going with the RMS the county plans to use for the consolidation, said Creel.

The RMS system the county plans to use is from Agisent Technologies, which is less expensive with an initial cost of $8,276 and an annual fee of $7,376 for the Poplarville Police Department, compared to an initial cost of $10,000 and an annual $10,000 cost for the ARMS system, said Collier. However, the initial cost of the ARMS system would be covered by a federal grant. Collier also has concerns about the system from Agisent.

Collier said that he did not intend to create a conflict with county officials and wants the Poplarville Police Department to be part of the E911 consolidation.

Collier, who was appointed police chief in March, said he did not realize that the plan for a countywide E911 dispatch included a records management system.

The police department has a federal grant to cover the startup costs of a new records management system and to allow the department to purchase a system that can file reports from their vehicles, said Collier.

The countywide plan for E911 consolidation no longer includes the capability to file records from police vehicles because it was too costly, said Collier. If the Board goes forward with using the county’s selected records management system, the police department will have to return some of the federal grant money it has been awarded since the county system does not have that mobile capability.

City Clerk Jane O’Neal informed the Board that it is possible returning the federal grant money may make the Board less likely to receive similar funds in the future, because returning federal grant monies is very unusual.

Collier also said he has some concerns about the records management system from Agisent.

The police department, like departments across the country, has to be compliant with new records requirements at the end of January. Law enforcement agencies are required to submit data to the FBI. NIBRS is a more advanced reporting system that agencies are required to be compliant with by the end of January 2021.

The reporting writing system law enforcement agencies use helps them keep up with those statistics, said Collier.

The Poplarville Police Department’s current system is outdated and not capable of producing NIBRS reports. Collier told the Board he is concerned that the system from Agisent may not be capable of producing reports that can be submitted to the state.

At least five other law enforcement agencies in Mississippi are using Agisent for records management and they have been unable to submit their reports to the state, said Collier.

David Lufty, President of Agisent Technologies, sent a letter to Collier that the “Agisent Technologies Platform RMS System is fully NIBRS Compliant and has a built-in validator to ensure compliance”.

If the department has a system that is not NIBRS compliant, it will not be able to use any of the federal grant money it has been awarded, said Collier.

Whatever system the law enforcement agency uses will have to be selected soon, as being NIBRS compliant requires the department to be running the system and submitting reports error free for six months, Collier told the Board.