Apprehending a suspect or arriving at the scene of an emergency are everyday job duties for those in law enforcement, but it’s the lead-up to these events that can try officers’ patience as they deal with limited technology. Police departments are notorious for embracing technological upgrades at a slow and unsteady pace, and post-recession belt-tightening budgetary measures aren’t helping the situation.
Still, some of the nation’s largest forces are finding cost-effective solutions to bring high-tech gadgets into patrol vehicles.
In November, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department announced that it’s replacing mid-1980s-era technology with a Raytheon mobile data computer system that has been battle-tested by soldiers in Iraq. The new laptop computer systems will let deputies access the Sheriff’s Data Network and criminal databases, including FBI records; California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) photos; GPS routing to emergency calls; and biometric data, such as fingerprints.
More than 2,400 patrol cars, motorcycles, prisoner transport vehicles and SUVs are being outfitted with the state-of-the-art systems, and the program has already garnered national recognition. At Government Security News’ recent annual homeland security awards dinner in Washington, D.C., LASD received the award for “Most Notable Emergency Response Technology.”
Then there’s the California Highway Patrol, the nation’s largest state police agency which is responsible for 15,181 miles of highway.
Recognizing the need for effective interoperable communications during an emergency, CHP has taken nine Chevy Tahoes and transformed them into sophisticated SUVs called Incident Command Vehicles that operate as public safety command centers on wheels.
Each ICV is outfitted with the latest communications equipment, including satellite, cellular, VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) and Internet access. At the center of this mobile command and control unit is the ACU-1000 Gateway system, a Raytheon technology, which can cross-connect different radio networks, connect those networks to phone or satellite systems, and function without a network connection because it makes its own.
In both cases, the LASD and CHP are bringing technology from the station to the street, delivering information to officers directly in their vehicles and increasing response efficiency.
On a related note, I’m attending a counterterrorism seminar this month at the UCLA Public Safety Network Systems Laboratory in Los Angeles. I hope to share some insights from that event in my next post.