Virtual network still down


A computer problem that occurred at Saratoga Town Hall more than a year ago is still disallowing Encampment’s police department real-time access to a law enforcement database.

The software application, a system created by the Salt Lake City-based Spillman Technologies Inc., is a database that keeps track of law enforcement activities across multiple jurisdictions, making police work in the field and required paperwork easier. According to Spillman Technologies, the brand’s police software offers completely integrated real-time data, from command staff to the records division, dispatch to investigations and patrol to evidence.

The Encampment Police Department had linked to the Saratoga Police Department’s computers using a virtual private network (VPN), but the computer issue has locked out Encampment police from remotely accessing the Spillman program stored on Saratoga’s servers. The town of Encampment paid for access to the Spillman system, but because of an accidental disabling on Saratoga’s end, Encampment had been unable to connect to it on a secure VPN for the last 18 months.

Lack of virtual network slows written reports

Because of the computer access issue, Encampment Police Chief Grayling Wachsmuth told the Encampment Town Council March 13 he still had trouble completing written reports on calls his department responded to. He reported that he had 48 incidents last month, but that his written report on police calls for the council was still incomplete because of no access to the Spillman system.

During the council meeting, Wachsmuth said someone from the town of Saratoga worked on the issue, but after spending four hours working on the connection, there was still no resolution. Wachsmuth also spoke with Saratoga Police Chief Tom Knickerbocker about the problem.

“Their new IT person sat here for four hours trying to hook up a VPN between here and the server in Saratoga, and they couldn’t talk to the server,” Wachsmuth said at the council meeting. “They still haven’t got it figured out and can only come on Saturdays, so I’ve been patiently waiting. I don’t care if you have to hire people out of Spillman. Because we paid for it and we paid for the maintenance fee, I want the service.”

Encampment council member Cindy Hamilton, who is employed as an information technology specialist for Carbon Power and Light, agreed that it was about time the problem was fixed. She mentioned looking into other local qualified computer technicians who could address the problem.

“Something needs to give, and I’m guessing the Spillman people are not available on Saturdays,” Hamilton said. “I think maybe we need to move in a different direction, and get something done during the week when we have support from other people who can get it taken care of. There are other IT people in this Valley.”

A consensus was reached by the Encampment Council since support fees are paid for the use of software, it is past time for a solution to be reached. Chief Wachsmuth said he would talk to Chief Knickerbocker about the matter again, and give an update on the issue before the April 10 Encampment Town Council meeting.

“I’ll have a conversation with Tom after I leave this meeting, and say to get it fixed because it has been long enough,” Wachsmuth said. “If they can’t figure it out, they should hire someone that knows how to figure things out. The VPN between here and there should be very simple.”

Saratoga working on issue

Knickerbocker said since taking over as Saratoga’s police chief in September, he has been trying to fix the computer issue that locked out Encampment police from remotely accessing the software program stored on Saratoga’s servers. He said the system went down on Aug. 14, 2012, which was before he was made chief.

“Since I took over as chief I’ve been fervently trying to get the system back up and running, and I’m surprised this has come up as an issue with all we’ve been trying to do,” Knickerbocker said. “I called Spillman right when I took over as chief, and I thought Spillman was responsible for getting them up and running. I even hired an IT person specifically to get the Encampment VPN set up and running. The message of what I’ve been doing up here hasn’t really been delivered to the Encampment council.”

Knickerbocker said a fix to the problem may be their newly installed router, which he said the hired IT person, Andi Ward, had installed over the weekend. He said he also wanted to make sure he maintained a good relationship with the people in Encampment.

“The Saratoga Police Department is not responsible to do Encampment’s IT Work, but we’re doing it anyway,” Knickerbocker said. “I’ve taken the task on myself to get Encampment up and running. We’re trying to get it done to have a good working relationship with them, and we’re not charging them. What Encampment paid for was the software operating, but they didn’t pay for any IT work and never paid us for using our system.”

Wachsmuth welcome to use computers in Saratoga

Knickerbocker said until the VPN connection is repaired, Chief Wachsmuth is welcome to still prepare his reports in the Saratoga police station on the computers there.

“If he’s not able to complete his reports, he is welcome to use our system to complete his reports until we get the problem remedied,” Knickerbocker said.

Saratoga expanding

Spillman system

Knickerbocker said Saratoga is expanding its Spillman system with a new module called InSight, which uses a better search and filter engine and has file sharing capability with other agencies.

“With InSight, any agency in the state that has an Insight module through Spillman lets other agencies on that module view their database,” he said. “We set up permission and allow them to see information we want them to see, and we can see what they want us to see. We can punch a person’s name in and look under involvement, and it can be used to eliminate suspects. It may not be an actual module on Encampment’s system, but because we dispatch for them, that office can request information. It can be used for real-time or investigatively throughout dispatch.”

Knickerbocker welcomed help from Encampment regarding the VPN hookup.

“We’re working as hard as we can to get this established, and if someone down there has some idea of how to get the VPN established, they may assist our IT person,” he said. “We would be more than happy if anyone can give some advice.”


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