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The next-generation police car from Motorola Solutions will let officers push a button on the steering wheel to talk to a dispatcher, control vehicle equipment with voice commands and see surveillance video in real-time on a dashboard computer screen.
The 2012 Chevrolet Caprice Police Patrol Vehicle, a 6-liter V8 engine model with a base price of $30,170, sports eight cameras that snap photos of every vehicle that passes by, as well as the car's interior and any exterior angle that the officer chooses.
The system checks the license plate numbers against a database, and notifies the officer via his in-car computer whether any has outstanding violations. The system can take 8,000 to 10,000 photos of license plates per shift, and frees the officer from having to write down license-plate numbers and call dispatch for the check, said Shamik Mukherjee, director of government solutions marketing for Motorola Solutions, headquartered in Schaumburg.
The car's price differs depending on the number that a police department buys and the variety of technology installed.
The new real-time features "make it easier, safer and more efficient" to get the job done while letting colleagues know what's going on in real time, said Schaumburg Police Sergeant John Nebl, who demonstrated the system Wednesday.
Nebl, the police department's public information officer, said when he started his career 27 years ago, police cars had two Motorola radios in their cars - one to talk with the state police and the other to talk to the local police department.
No local police departments have bought the next generation car because it's just now rolling off a General Motors Holden Ltd. assembly line in Australia.
Last year, Motorola Solutions unveiled updated systems that let officers take photos with hand-held devices, print out traffic tickets, scan a driver's license barcode and do biometric fingerprint scans on-site on a portable wireless computer.
Fact Box: The tricked out police car can have: A) Computer terminal with a real-time video screen. The police officer can see video streams from fixed surveillance cameras and share important video views from the car with a dispatcher or mobile backup unit. B) This computer lets the officer driving the car operate the radios, siren, emergency lights, gun lock and public-address system without taking his or her eyes off the road. C) All of the vehicle controls can also be operated through voice commands so the officer needs to press one button for any function, along with speaking a command. D) Cameras on the roof continuously take pictures of each passing vehicle's license plate and read it to see if it matches a plate hot-list database. The officer is instantly alerted if one of the passing vehicles has an outstanding violation, and the type of violation. The video cameras inside the car capture video that can be recorded as evidence for an investigation. A dispatcher or supervisor can view the video in real time so that back-up can be sent if the officer needs help. E) The push-to-talk button integrated with the steering wheel lets the officer talk on the radio without having to remove his or her hand from the wheel. *The next-generation police car's capabilities are dependent on the police department buying cars and installing a broadband network in their area that allows the communications devices to "talk" to each other.