Vermont’s Department of Public Safety has shut down its new computer-assisted dispatch and records system used by the Vermont State Police after it malfunctioned during its rollout to additional agencies across the state.
The system, Valcour, was unable to handle the addition of two-dozen Vermont law enforcement agencies to its servers and became too slow to use.
According to Commissioner Michael Schirling, Valcour malfunctioned following its rollout to state police field offices, the Department of Public Safety headquarters, the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department, as well as municipal agencies and active sheriff’s departments.
Schirling announced that Valcour would be temporarily shut down and replaced with the previous system known as Spillman in a news conference.
According to the Bennington Banner, agencies were seriously affected by the overloaded and malfunctioning system.
Col. Matthew Birmingham, director of the Vermont State Police, encouraged his troopers in an email to refrain from proactive police work, such as traffic stops, to avoid burdening the system further.
In addition, Grand Isle County Sheriff Ray Allen said his deputies had to resort back to using paper and pen to record interactions with motorists and other people because the system was unusable.
Williston Police Chief Patrick Foley was also frustrated for his officers out in the field making stops and responding to complaints, and said his daytime dispatcher created a hand-written police log to track information while Valcour was down.
“It kept slowing down. It kept freezing up. It was not operational,” Foley said.
Other law enforcement officials across the state had similar complaints.
Northfield Police Chief John Helfant said,“I know my dispatcher was pulling her hair out.”
Police Chief Peter Mantello in Castleton said of the rollout. “It didn’t go smooth. People were losing information.”
Winhall Police and Rescue Chief Derrick Tienken added, “It was definitely bogged down and slow to use,” and had reverted to the old Spillman system.
Essex County Sheriff Trevor Colby criticized the Valcour system as giving officers in the field more work while they are trying to resolve issues. He said that instead of registration and license information appearing on the computer screen when the dispatcher runs the information, the deputy has to do that themselves while on the road.
“The more work on their end is frustrating,” Colby said.
When asked by reporters about Valcour, Schirling deferred: “There is a technical issue that has arisen beginning late yesterday. I would beg to differ on whether there have been any concerns about the ongoing rollout to this point.”
In an email circulated by Kelly Nolan, an IT project manager for the Vermont Agency of Digital Services, Schirling was uncertain about when the system would be fixed and back in use.
“We do not have a timeline for any future changes at this stage but will share it as soon as the technical and operational teams have identified next steps,” he said in the email.