Eyes on the Road
Eyes on the Road Eyes on the Road
The inside of a cruiser can be a busy place.
The inside of a cruiser can be a busy place. The inside of a cruiser can be a busy place.
Thermal printer citations are accepted in court.
Thermal printer citations are accepted in court. Thermal printer citations are accepted in court.
The mobile data environment.
The mobile data environment. The mobile data environment.
FEATURED IN TECHNOLOGY AND COMMUNICATIONS
What started out as a chance encounter during a police training session has led, I believe, to some of the greatest technology improvements for law enforcement this decade. While attending an in-service training class, I had the opportunity to meet an officer who had developed a text-to-speech application for his mobile database program.
At the time, I was an officer with Aventura (Fla.) Police Department and assigned to the administrative division. My duties mainly dealt with the implementation of technology, so when the officer told me about the application, I was interested. The project started out as a way to make his workload a little easier.The result: He created a software solution that has not only improved officer safety, but has also improved how we do business.
What It Does
When laptop computing was introduced to the law enforcement community by well-meaning vendors, the solution was often cumbersome to operate. In some cases, laptops created officer safety concerns. The majority of software solutions employed by thousands of agencies nationwide are typically developed by vendors that have little experience in the law enforcement field.
That s the difference with the Virtual Partner Program: It s created for cops by cops. The Virtual Partner Program was initially developed and continues to be modified and improved by those who have the greatest stake in its success and by those who stand to benefit the most from the technology the police officers themselves. This solution takes into account all of the nuances of police work and packages a solution to resolve most officer safety concerns, all while improving efficiencies.
Typically, an officer enters a license number and their existing software receives several queries simultaneously. Seconds later, an easy-to-understand, human voice (not computerized text-to-speech) verbally reads back the car s description and whether it s stolen. It also says if the driver is a habitual traffic offender, has a valid license and registration or is wanted on an arrest warrant all things officers must know before approaching a vehicle.
This innovation is profound: The officer no longer needs to take his or her eyes off of the road or subject while trying to read through a NCIC return, which greatly increases an officer s safety.
Aventura PD rolled out the initial voice response solution to a handful of officers. As the officers began using it and word spread throughout the department of 82 sworn officers, many other officers began clamoring to have the software installed on their computers.
After the huge success of the initial product roll out, the agency looked for further enhancements to improve officer safety and efficiency. Some of those enhancements, including the Quick Ticket feature, led to even further collaborative development of products between our agency and the software vendor.
The Quick Ticket module extracts pertinent data about the vehicle and driver from the NCIC/DHSMV response and automatically populates a computer-generated citation. The officer simply enters in the correct violation from a pull-down menu. They no longer need to look up state statutes. Once this information is entered in the computer, the officer prints the actual uniform citation on a printer located inside the cruiser. The citation is completed and printed in less than 60 seconds. This has resulted in reduced errors, reduced time spent on traffic stops and less tickets being contested or lost in court.
When we initially tested the Quick Ticket module, we saw an average increase of 100% in ticket writing by the officers with printers. After stabilizing, the increases have remained greater then 50% before the program was implemented.
The initial roll-out included an impact Epson printer that was mounted in the patrol vehicles. This was required because citations were still required to be completed on the Florida Uniform Traffic Citation. Since then, we ve been able to work with the local court system and the state of Florida to have thermal printed citations approved by the court. Almost all of our impact printers have now been replaced with the much smaller Zebra thermal printers.
The increase in citation issuance led to an overload of records, and the records division incurred a large amount of overtime in order to hand-enter the citations into the records management system. If we were to continue the program, we d need to find a solution to this.
We set out to create a data transfer system to alleviate this problem. The software vendor was able to create a simple to use data transfer system that sent the citation from the cruiser to the station and into the records management system all without any human intervention. This has eliminated the overtime situation in the records division, and, most importantly, now frees up valuable time for the records clerks for other duties.
After successfully demonstrating our ability to transmit citations electronically, we approached the Miami Dade clerk of the courts with a beta test program for agencies to submit tickets to the court electronically. We were selected as one of two initial agencies by the clerk of the courts to begin sending our citations to them electronically. This practice is now widespread and shared by many agencies.
Frustration associated with the amount of citations being dismissed in court due to such errors as bad handwriting and incorrect statutes has been drastically reduced. So has the amount of bad drivers getting off without paying fines. Our solution was then recognized by the chief judge as a critical advancement to help resolve this problem for the courts.
Aventura is an affluent community located in southeast Florida with many gated properties and high-rise condominiums. When officers respond to calls for services in these communities they re often slowed down because they must stop at the gate, and then request the correct code to enter from the police dispatcher. This not only delays response to calls for services, but it also ties up valuable radio air time.
To solve this problem the vendor developed the Gate Code feature. Now, when an officer arrives at a gated community, they simply hit a button on the laptop and the Virtual Partner Program voice responses the correct gate code based on the CAD location of the call. The officer can easily get the gate code to the community while on the way to the call, so the delay in entering is now reduced to a minimum.
We currently deploy our mobile database solutions on Dell Latitude Series laptops that connect back to the station over the Verizon CDMA network. All of our laptops are installed with the Netmotion solution for session persistence and eventual implementation of the TROPOS 802.11 WiFi network.
Here at the Aventura PD, we pride ourselves on our technical savvy. We ve helped create, test and improve new versions of software that I believe would be of benefit to most agencies. The fact is, this technology is making officers safer and more efficient. If you have any questions about our program, please don t hesitate to contact me at email@example.com.This is technical stuff, but you don t need to do it alone.
Sites of Interest
For more information on e-ticketing, mobile printing and mobile database solutions, visit these vendor Web sites: