Providing 24-hour coverage year round with a full staff of state-commissioned sworn police officers, the Millersville University Police Department is responsible for maintaining a productive and safe campus environment for the University’s students, faculty, staff and community. Located in Lancaster County, Pa., Millersville University has about 8,700 undergraduate and graduate students, and approximately 1,075 faculty and staff members. The Police Department consists of 17 sworn officers, two civilian staff and eight security officers.
Lt. Arthur White reports that the University Police Department has been using Metro Technology Services’ Visual Alert records management system for almost two decades to track incidents and accidents, manage parking and generate reports. Recently the department moved to Visual Alert 2.
In addition to protecting the Millersville University community, Lt. White also works part-time for two other police departments that use different options to manage their information. He clearly sees the advantages of using Metro’s Visual Alert solution.
The University Police Department uses the Visual Alert Incident Tracking module on a daily basis. “The report approval process in Visual Alert 2 really streamlines our approvals and we are not wasting as much paper as we did in the past,” Lt. White said. “We used to have to print off the reports, approve them and then hand them to our administrative assistant to enter into the system. Now, we actually approve reports online before they reach the admin, helping us in our efforts to go green.” In addition, he pointed out, no time is wasted sifting through piles of paper on a desk or in a mailbox for a particular piece of information or report.
Lt. White appreciates the value of the reporting tools in Visual Alert: “We are able to query specific data and pull information such as how many drug arrests were made on campus vs. the total number of arrests made in a certain time period,” he said.
Report writing is extremely important for public safety agencies as they must provide information not only to local and state agencies, but also to the University Administration to help officials make better decisions. Visual Alert helps the department’s administrative assistant easily generate UCRs for the state each month and provide data, such as car accidents on campus, drug incidents or sexual assaults, for example, when requested by the University Administration.
The University also relies on the Visual Alert Parking module to process thousands of parking tickets each month for students, faculty, staff and visitors. “We have a Parking Division within our department and they fully utilize the tool for managing parking permits and processing tickets,” Lt. White said.
“I also like the Evidence Management tool much better than the options available in other systems I use,” he added. “In Visual Alert, evidence can be attached to each incident in the system. We always know where the evidence is located and it is easy to do the chain of custody for each item. With other systems, it is often difficult to figure out where the evidence is stored and there are multiple steps required to record and retrieve evidence.”
One of Lt. White’s favorite features in Visual Alert is being able to enter something once — the name of a suspect, for example — and have it populate the database for future criminal and accident reports, as well as parking tickets and other incidents. This feature not only saves data entry time, but also prevents errors associated with entering data multiple times. He concluded, “Overall, there is definitely a cost and time savings with the Visual Alert solution compared to the methods other departments are using.”