Mobility is a big deal these days. Just look at the profusion of PDAs, including smartphones and tablets. We’re computing on the go more than ever. The power of computing is no longer tied to the desk.
But you’re a motor officer. You work the dusty, often hot streets of Tucson, Ariz. You’ve lost hundreds of officers in recent years due to budget cuts. What do you do?
You put relevant information in the hands of officers in the field. Chief Roberto Villasenor’s solution to do so was a Panasonic U1 handheld for each officer.
45 units were deployed to motor officers. The result: “We have to wrestle them out of the hands of our motor officers,” says Capt. Bill Richards. “They love them.”
“Time out of service is reduced. Traffic stop time is reduced. Error rate is lower. Even as our police force has shrunk, our productivity has increased. This technology allows us to manage our human resources better.”
This is a good solution on a lot of levels. For one thing, it gets cops the information they need: computer-aided dispatch, department databases, email and more. It’s also a very convenient size for the motor officer—essentially a beefed-up PDA. And, as you would expect from the Toughbook line, it can take the Tucson heat.
“The insides of our patrol cars routinely get up around 140 degrees in the summer,” says Richards. “Inside a motor officer’s saddlebag, it can get up around 190.” Because 190 degrees is beyond what even the Toughbook might stand, Tucson installed small fans in all motorcycle saddlebags to cool units during storage.
The ticketing process is simple and effective. Officers swipe the offender’s license and all their information is brought up in the Tucson system. Officers are instantly alerted of relevant information, such as stolen vehicle and parole violation status. A drop-down menu prioritizes the most common offenses. Officers can even get driver registration over the computer.
“The violator gets a copy, and a copy goes to the court and records instantly,” says Richards. “Just like that.”
“When times are tough, you have to save money over time,” says Richards, “and investing in good technology is one way to do that.”