City Council approves $407 thousand purchase of electronic citation system for SPD

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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Police say a new electronic citation system will make Savannah Police Department (SPD) more efficient, accurate, and safe. One of the few remaining agencies in the state to make the switch from paper citations, Savannah Police Department can also use the system to hold officers more accountable, according to supporters.

Luitenant Max Nowinsky says the old system — which requires officers to fill-out personal information and hand-write citation violations — costs officers valuable minutes. According to department data, the lieutenant with planning and technology says the entire process can take up to 30 minutes.

It’s a dangerous number for both officers and citizens, according to Lt. Nowinksy. Officers often write citations in situations that can put their lives at risk.

“The less time we can spend on the side of the road, the more time we can dedicate other duties, and the safer it is for everyone involved,” said Lt. Nowinksy.

Last week, most city council members approved the $407,504 purchase of Tyler Technologies’ Brazos™ eCitation solution. A company representative says the equipment can “eliminate data entry errors on citations.”

Nowinsky agrees. With additional funding, officers can make use of existing scanners and purchase more equipment/software to give every officer the ability to scan licenses, registrations, and choose a citation from a drop-down menu. Eventually, Nowinsky hopes the system will reduce the citation processing time to five minutes.

“We’re the only agency in this area that isn’t currently using electronic citation solution,” he said.

With the new system, an electronic citation automatically sends itself to officials at Chatham County’s Recorder’s Court. Court officials will not have to manually enter information. And, they will no longer struggle to decipher the handwriting of an officer.

An automatic transfer also eliminates the need for an officer to manually transport paper citations from SPD headquarters to court.

In turn, Nowinsky says the courts can reveal a citation’s status and associated fine within five days, instead of ten.

“With this new system, we can look at things we might want to be concerned with such as the rate at which officers are pulling over people, cars of certain types. We can look at race. We can look at sex…things of that nature,” he said.

Former law enforcement officer and alderman Nick Palumbo voted in favor of the purchase. He says he supports the change.

“We need to make sure every single citation and interaction our police have with our residents in held accountable,” he said.

Alderwoman At-Large Kesha Gibson-Carter is one of three council people to vote against the purchase. During the meeting, she brought up concerns over the necessity and timing of the purchase and questioned its overall effectiveness.

Gibson-Carter denied News 3’s request for an interview and indicated she was “not interested” in speaking further on the subject.

Chief Minter told the city council on Thursday he hopes the department can implement the new system in the next six to eight months.

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