The belt-tightening in City departments has required some creativity. In the police department, senior management had already implemented some technology improvements and has expedited this trend by carefully budgeting (and seeking outside funding) for additional technological advances. The use of technology will help improve productivity and the effectiveness of patrol officers. Let’s review the police department’s improvements that have been made and those that are being planned.
Leading-Edge Technology Already in Use (Year provided)Mobile Data Computers (2002)
These laptop computers installed in patrol cars provide officers with the ability to complete required documents, forms and reports in the field. As a result, preventative patrol time increased and the response to calls for service improved.
Tasers project two small probes via insulated wires and transmit an electrical signal. Violent offenders suffer an immediate loss of neuromuscular control for the duration of the impulse. Each Taser is equipped with an audio-video recording device that allows officers to record information prior to, during, and after its use.
In-Vehicle Video Recording (2007)
Each patrol vehicle is equipped with an in-vehicle audio-video recording system. These devices provide a recording prior to, during, and after calls for service. This provides for accountability, and video evidence.
SOFICS (State of Florida Integrated Citation System, 2007)
SOFICS is a fully automated traffic management system that allows officers to print traffic citations, collect and warehouse data and transmit records electronically to the Clerk of Courts. SOFICS allows for a reduction of personnel resources in the Records Section, as inefficient data entry is no longer required. Efficiency will be further improved when electronic transmittal of records to the Clerk of the Courts is implemented later this year.
Implemented in 2008, LiveScan allows for the digital submission of offender fingerprints. Positive identification can be obtained on offenders within minutes, and offenders arrested for misdemeanor crimes can be processed at the Police Department rather than the County Jail in Bartow. As a result, operational costs are lowered and officers remain in the community to respond to calls for service.
Leading-Edge Technology Being Planned (year anticipated)Wireless Camera System (2008)
The Police Department is planning to implement a wireless video camera system to view public areas. The system includes public WI-FI access for residents and will begin with four cameras. Additional cameras will be added in the future, and cameras can be moved as needed.
Thermal Imager (2008)
The Police Department will receive a thermal imager through a Department of Defense technology transfer program. Needing no light to operate, thermal imagers generate high quality images on the darkest nights, even through smoke. Uses will include patrolling construction sites to prevent copper theft.
Chief Herb Gillis substantially contributed to this article.