Pa. police to unite e-records

The Pennsylvania State Police have awarded a $17 million, three-year contract

to combine their extensive criminal records systems, including one that

holds some 2 million paper-based files, into a single electronic document

system.

The integrated system will allow users to check on whether someone has

a criminal history, information often used by organizations as part of a

background check on potential employees.

One of the systems to be integrated, for example, is the Pennsylvania

Access To Criminal History System (PATCH). That system already has Web-based

access for those who want to check histories, but because of its limited

capacity, it is available only to companies who are high-volume users.

The new system will also allow users to pay for criminal history checks

by credit card and to get a real-time response.

"It just will be far more efficient," said Capt. John Thierwechter,

director of the operational records division in the state police Bureau

of Records and Identification. "It will allow for comparisons of records

features online, for example. Now, people have to get up out of their desks

and do those comparisons manually."

It will also greatly extend the reach of the state police because its

own agencies and officers use the system to make criminal history checks.

The state police also will be able to scan, store and make images of documents

associated with a particular history.

The integration program, which is being carried out by Unisys Corp.,

will take just more than three years to complete, although some elements

will be available well before then. Thierwechter expects the new PATCH system

to be up and running in less than a year, for example, with a digital archiving

system ready to go soon after.

Robinson is a freelance journalist based in Portland, Ore.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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