EXCLUSIVE: $4M HPD computer, dispatch upgrade doesn't work

EXCLUSIVE: $4M HPD computer, dispatch upgrade doesn't work

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A $4 million contract to upgrade the Honolulu Police Department's dispatch and records systems has been an expensive failure and is 20 months behind schedule, sources told Hawaii News Now.

Police officers who refused to be identified said their work is hindered now because HPD's computer system does not easily tie together reports completed by patrol officers in districts with detectives working investigations.

It's so antiquated that important attachments such as witness statements sometimes wait months to be scanned into HPD's current computer system, sources said.

In the final days of 2011, the police department signed a contract with communications giant Motorola Solutions for a little more than $4 million.

The plan was to upgrade HPD's computer-aided dispatch and records management system to electronically link all aspects of police work from dispatching, to mobile computers in police cars to the reports written by patrol officers and detectives.

The upgrade was supposed to be finished by November 2013, HPD said, but the contract has been extended four times since then.  Sources said the reliability rate during practice runs of the new system never passed 10 percent.

HPD refused to release the unsuccessful test results of the new system and declined an interview for this story.  In a statement, HPD said, "Assessments were conducted in January and March, and the results were discussed with the contractor."

Councilman Ron Menor, chair of the City Council's public safety committee, said he's heard first-hand from officers about the problems.

"The system has been extremely slow and inefficient.  That it's very difficult for police officers to input, log into our retrieve important information that they need regarding cases that they need to investigate and follow up on," Menor said.

Sources said HPD wants to end the contract when it expires at the end of next month and is exploring whether to assign a tech-saavy officer who can write computer code to work on a fix.

"I think that they really need to give serious consideration to canceling this contract and implementing significant improvements to the system," Menor said.

Council Budget Chair Ann Kobayashi said, "If we're going to spend that kind of money, it should be on a system that works."

Kobayashi told Hawaii News Now she is upset that HPD never told her committee about the nearly two-year delay and problems with the upgrade during budget briefings in 2014 and this year.

"I always ask about their radio, their communication system, their dispatch system, and they always say it's working fine.  So I don't know what's happening over there," Kobayashi said, referring to HPD headquarters.

Motorola Solutions spokesman Eric Torbenson released a statement Friday afternoon that said, "Motorola Solutions will continue to work with the Honolulu Police Department to address any issues and resolve them amicably."

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