State trooper gripes about frustrating software glitches – sound familiar?

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by Guy Page

Even the dedicated, highly-trained, uber-capable troopers of our Vermont State Police suffer frustration with balky computers.

At 12:44 AM, Vermont Daily Chronicle received an email (perhaps not meant for media distribution, but nonetheless a state employee email, and therefore fair game as public record) from a state trooper who shall remain nameless because his name is not important. Sooner or later, his fate happens to everyone but the Internet-free Amish. Here is his message to the Department of Public Safety:

“Hello, Mobile Pro is completely non functional for traffic stops. I have stopped 4 cars today and was able to generate 3 of those traffic stops in Mobile pro. Car stop one, which I started an offline incident for, completely froze up and disappeared. I have zero record of the case and don’t know where it went. It froze up the moment I tried to put in a violation and said “Valcour is not responding”. Car stop 2, I was offline and mobile pro was unable to generate a case of any kind, sat there staring at a white screen. Car stops 3 and 4 both completely froze when I tried to put in a violation and also said it was not responding. I know there are issues at the moment but if the system is broken it would be helpful to know just not to use it as opposed to trying to use something that doesn’t work. Also for several days now when you scan a license in MP it is very picky and it often takes several scans to get the perfect scan. If it is anything less than optimal it reads the barcode and when you press “add result” the screen just goes white and it makes you restart. This is incredibly frustrating.”

Freezing computer screens?

Staring at a white screen?

Scanners that won’t?

Sound familiar? For all of us dealing daily with the gremlins, not to mention Google and Meta restrictions, “this is incredibly frustrating,” all right. But what else can we do but try to be good troopers. Officer, you have a nice day.

There’s probably a legitimate news story here. The Vermont public safety dispatching and computer system has been in transition for several years. As the number of actual human patrol officers and dispatchers declines, law enforcement leaders are relying more and more on technology.

Meanwhile, let’s give each other grace. The next frozen screen might be yours.

Categories: Commentary

2 replies »

  1. I saw this when I worked in EHR (Electronic Health Record) software for years. Not only is mission-critical software in many domains extremely glitchy and fragile, it’s also not written with the end user in mind. There’s a huge “impedance mismatch” between the the software systems people are being forced to use and how they are accustomed to doing their daily jobs.

    As a result, the huge productivity gains that *should* be able to be realized by technology are being lost. In fact in many domains (certainly healthcare and others) productivity and quality of service has dropped precipitously – all thanks to crap software.

  2. With each new gizmo and better faster computer, the further we get into a mess of glitches and the less control we have of the media. I went back to a rolodex, paper calendar, and landline phone. My patient records are paper, my clients pay with checks. Now I am looking into how to ditch this cell phone.

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