True Detective Stories

When it comes to my profession, there are many instances where I go without. I do not have a clean workstation, a printer with adequate ink, or hot and cold running female cops. That’s fine; I have come to expect as much.

What I do need is an adequate computer which runs a stable, effective data entry program.

My night work tour started Friday, and two hours in the computer system crashed. The front desk system is arguably the most important station in the building, because its purpose is to log the information from every report, crime, and arrest. That information can be seen department-wide, so if we say, have a shooting, the bosses can map the data adjust patrol patterns.

There is one detective in the entire division who is trusted to work the front desk system. No one else will be trained for reasons which I do not understand. The detective works during the day, Monday through Friday, so when the computer crashed on a weekend, the entire division grinds to a halt…

The detective was in yesterday and fixed one of the many bugs in this system. (You see, if you’re a computer genius, you get hired by Apple and Google. If you’re a computer novice, you get hired by a bankrupt police department. The person who designed this system knew there were fatal flaws in the system, and fixes would be costly and/or time consuming. But hey, at least he got paid.)

After three days of night work, my squad amassed forty-one jobs. I entered them into the backup system – which, ironically, is much more reliable than the main system – but the bosses demand they are reentered into the main hub. So, my first two hours Monday were spent reentering data which was already available.

You’ll never guess what happened just after the three-hour mark…

The system crashed.

A normal night work would have us see maybe twenty jobs in a tour. I had entered thirty-one jobs and still had ten more to add. These were the weekend jobs, not Monday’s current jobs which were also quickly piling on my desk.

And before you say, “Wyatt, you’re off Tuesday and Wednesday, so it’s not your problem.” Oh, but it is. First, it’s my job to get these jobs entered, so I want to be the one to do it. Second, my day-off replacements don’t care, and they’ll leave the jobs for me when I go back Thursday.

Look, I understand the city is broke, the department is broke, and the bosses stopped overtime altogether. Is it too much to ask for a computer program which is stable and not prone to dumps? At this point, I’d settle for a system that doesn’t crash two hours after the computer guru goes home for the day.

8 thoughts on “True Detective Stories

  1. After losing my job in IT from an Offshore Drilling Company, I realized that all my stress at the job was because I cared…don’t care now, much happier 🙂

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  2. Reading this I remembered how freakin’ old I must be. Back in the day, we didn’t even have computers. We wrote stuff down on paper reports. I have no clue what your life must be like other than being smart enough to know how often poorly designed computer systems can blow up. I feel for you. Hopefully you make it out before they wall off the city and you have to be Snake Plissken to escape.

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  3. “To err is human. To really ‘foul’ things up requires a computer.”

    I can’t remember when I saw that, probably in the eighties when personal computers were just beginning to get popular, but it is as true today as it was back in the DOS Daze.

    But to put things in perspective, try writing logic that controls a power plant with over forty thousand input and output points, which all interact with each other. And adjusted frequently by human operators.

    Data entry is boring. Working on a computer that controls temperatures, pressures, and chemistry that can melt steel is nerve wracking at times.

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  4. Rob – My lieutenant said much the same thing. I’m upset because I 1. can’t do my job, and 2. am not provided with the tools I need for said job. This, more than anything, is why I want to retire.

    RG – In 1994 we had basic data processing computers, but when logging jobs, it was all by hand, one long sheets of paper. This is – in theory – much easier, but the department will not put out the money for adequate equipment. We literally just got Windows 10 a month ago. Before that we were using Windows XP, which debuted nineteen years ago.

    TX Nick – Ever since I came on the job, we had to hand deliver the reports to the detective division. This is the other infuriating thing now. Officers write up a report and either fax it or scan it into the system. Our printers suck, so we can rarely read the fax or copy, and when we write in false information, or ignore info we cannot read, they yell at us.

    “Well, if we had a hard copy – which is policy – this wouldn’t be an issue!”

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  5. That just seems idiotic that there is only one person trained to run the system. If there is one thing any government agency should provide, it is backup plans. What happens when he goes on vacation or gets in a car crash on the way to work?

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    1. You would be surprised at the number of power plants that have one systems tech. And some of the plants share one tech with each other. At times I am amazed our power grid is so reliable.

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  6. MelP – It’s the little things which drive me crazy. Stupid things like the computer crashing or the printer not working. A city this big should have working items, but no one cares.

    Ingineer – I’ve mentioned this to my last four captains, and have been ignored every time. I’ve only been in the division for fifteen years and nearly twenty-six years on the job. I don’t even want to be responsible for it. Train a supervisor. I don’t want the detective’s job; I just want to do mine.

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