FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) --A software program that gives Fresno police officers more detailed information about the dangers officers could potentially face at calls is being shutdown. This after the city council decided the public needs to know more about the information officers are getting, and the potential bias it could cause with how they respond
The information used by officers is from search engines and data collecting services. It's all public record but Friday it will be discontinued.
Earlier this month critical information was relayed to officers seconds after frantic relatives called from a Central Fresno home about their loved one who was stabbed to death. Right away, officers knew they were looking for a who slit his throat after he is accused of murdering his wife. They also knew the car Chinnawat Vue was driving and had his cell phone number, because the department was using software called "Beware."
These details are why Chief Jerry Dyer said the information is valuable and necessary to save lives, protect the public, and alert officers of additional dangers.
"It's not the source of information that we can access legally, it's the time that it takes to do it very quickly," said Dyer.
The service, provided by a company called Intrado provides dispatchers and officers with information about each address they respond to-- including the names of other people associated with that home, criminal records, and other publicly accessible information. The system initially included data from social media websites, and threat concern levels-- but those features were discontinued after some public concern. Still, some say this technology tool needs oversight, and may include information that is outdated, inaccurate, or misleading.
"Such technology infringes on the privacy of the general public, and free speech, and so, we need an ordinance that has checks and balances that is productive and healthy for the whole city," said Chris Breedlove, local pastor.
"Personalities and relationships aside, these kinds of decisions call for community involvement and verification," said Booker Lewis, local pastor.
Dyer reminded the council that the most important feature is how fast it works, but not one council member was willing to approve the five year contract Thursday.
"We can still do this-- but it will take us an hour to access Lexis Nexis and a number of the other data bases that they are accessing for us in real time," said Dyer.
The council wanted to delay the decision but Dyer said postponing it will mean losing the grant.
Thursday is the last day the system is working.