New Radio, Records Management Systems Part of CHP Modernization
Chief April Baxter, the chief information officer for the California Highway Patrol, discussed the department’s wide-ranging technology work underway at a recent Industry Insider — California Members Briefing.
Industry Insider members got the latest recently from the technology leader for California’s main statewide law enforcement department on the far-reaching IT work underway this year.
The chief information officer for the California Highway Patrol (CHP), Chief April Baxter, shared her IT priorities and plans for the department June 8 during a Members Briefing hosted by Mike Driessen, vice president of subscription services for e.Republic, parent of Industry Insider. The CHP has more than 11,000 employees, an annual budget of around $3 billion, and an estimated IT budget of $100 million. In conversation with e.Republic Deputy Chief Innovation Officer Joe Morris, Baxter provided a detailed overview of the department’s many tech and innovation projects and initiatives. Among the takeaways:
- Efficiency and safety guide the department’s IT work. “The guiding principle for technology for us, outside of what we’re mandated to do, is to make the job of our officers and our dispatchers more efficient and safer,” Baxter told Morris, noting that there’s also interest in more easily compiling data on the work that sworn officers do, to enable informed decisions on operations. Another major goal is eliminating paper, as officers at various levels still frequently use paper to accomplish a variety of tasks.
- A foundational change is coming to a major communications system. The CHP is moving from a low-band radio system for officer and personnel communications to the California Radio Interoperable System (CRIS), a 700-megahertz system, beginning with a pilot in the North Sacramento area later this year. The system, created in 2019, is a project of the Public Safety Communications unit of the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services and in joining, the CHP will become a customer of the office. “In our mountainous (and) valley areas, where we really struggle with being able to hear our officers, we are very excited with what the testing has done so far,” Baxter said. “It’s a huge project. We’re all very excited about it.” The CHP also did a radio console replacement project with InterTalk Critical Information Systems.
- A records management upgrade is on the way. The CHP worked with Mark43 to deploy a new records management system that facilitates National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) and California Incident-Based Reporting System (CIBRS) information reporting. That deployment is now in its second phase, which will add evidence records processing and additional processes. The second phase should be completed in 2026. “Documentation is important, you know, and all of the things that go with that. But if we can streamline that for ourselves as an agency, but then also for our partners, automating a lot of their processes would be helpful for not just us, but for the ones that work with us,” Baxter said.
- Body-worn cameras could be on the horizon. The CHP, working with Safe Fleet, has already upgraded in-vehicle camera systems, which were previously DVD-based, as the result of a project that began about three years ago. The project’s next phase will be providing body-worn cameras to officers. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposed 2023-2024 Fiscal Year budget released in January had a little more than $9.8 million and 11 positions to aid the CHP with implementing body-worn cameras statewide. But it’s not yet clear whether the budget Newsom signed June 27 or subsequent budget trailer bills preserved the funding and staff.