Seized assets to fund significant upgrade for Morgantown Police

MORGANTOWN — A $149,277 expenditure from the Morgantown Police Department’s asset forfeiture account will bring a dramatic change to the department’s record keeping and enhance officer access to data in the field.

The funds will be used to purchase software through Zuercher that will bring the MPD up to date and in line with what other agencies are utilizing, both locally and across the state.

“We don’t have the ability to run drivers’ licenses and registrations in the field. We have to rely on going outside the communication network to the MECCA 911 center,” Morgantown Police Chief Ed Preston said, later adding “Basically it’s an old system, so if you think about the old Zenith 248K computer sitting in your office, that’s basically what we’re working off of. We’re working off 1980s technology.”

The new system will allow officers to access the department’s server in the field and maintain a connection to the MECCA 911 server, which allows access to geocoding and GIS mapping data.

Preston the change represents a huge transition for the department. He said a similar system change in 2007 cost $1.2 million.

“We’re able to do this one for less than $200,000 and have a better system,” he said.

The software will allow supervisors to monitor officer reports in real time. It will also allow officers to import drivers’ license data into a report by swiping a license’s bar code.

The software is the same that is used or being implemented by MECCA 911, WVU Police, the Mon Metro Task Force, Granville Police and the Monongalia County Sheriff’s Office. Preston said departments in Charleston and Huntington also rely on this software.

Preston said he anticipates the software will take about a year to fully implement and get officers and staff  up to speed using the new system.

The department’s asset forfeiture fund is a restricted fund holding money collected from the seizures and forfeitures of assets used to facilitate crimes.

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