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Top Cop in Mendota Heights Talks Shop with Patch

Police Chief Mike Aschenbrener talks about the benefits, and the expense, of upgrading technology.

To keep Mendota Heights, Lilydale and Mendota residents updated on  the latest in police and public safety news, Patch will be sitting down with Police Chief Mike Aschenbrener every few weeks to discuss the latest crime news and safety concerns in the area. This week, Aschenbrener explains updates the Mendota Heights police department is making to its records management system, and why it’s important that the MHPD modernize in order to meet the increasingly rigorous demands of modern policing.

What’s been keeping the department busy lately?

While the last few weeks have been “pretty quiet,” in Aschenbrener’s words, the chief of police reported that his staff is busy updating the department’s records management system.

“It puts a ton of strain on the staff, because nothing is second nature. Everything is extra work and time,” Aschenbrener said.

In partnership with seven other law enforcement agencies in Dakota County, the Mendota Heights Police Department is implementing new public safety software in order to streamline its policing efforts. Along with South St. Paul, Inver Grove Heights, Burnsville, the Dakota County Sheriff’s Office, West St. Paul, Hastings and Farmington, Aschenbrener’s staff is adapting to the new software system every day, addressing specific issues at weekly meetings.

Why partner with other local police?

Mendota Heights joined the consortium of local agencies in order to offset the system’s sizeable cost. Regardless of the financial burden it imposes, Aschenbrener emphasized how important updating the old system was to the department and city alike.

“You can’t be a police department without tracking and reporting crime and safety statistics to state and federal government agencies,” Aschenbrener said.

“In 1999 we switched to a records management system that never did state or federal reporting, and it was straining our (the MHPD) relationship with the state," he said. "Things got to the point that the state was on the verge of saying we couldn’t exist (as a police department) anymore, because we weren’t making progress to doing state reporting."

Purchased from ProPhoenix, a widely used public safety software provider, the new system allows each of the seven law enforcement agencies to enter all police reports electronically, ensuring that relevant crime data is efficiently tracked.

The system has an internal component local police investigators can use to make sure any incident report receives adequate follow-up, and also allows state and federal government agencies to track crime and public safety information from municipal governments in a more uniform manner. The system also inventories and allows for audits of confiscated or held property, from found items to physical crime evidence.

While not an issue that receives a lot of public attention, Aschenbrener said that updating the records management system has been a priority for the past several years. Easily accessible software, run over a secure internet connection, is the preferred way for modern police departments to not only interact with their counterparts in nearby cities, but also exchange information with state and federal law enforcement agencies.

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