Police in Fresno, Ca., will soon be able to download mug shots and streaming video through computers in their patrol cars and special handheld personal digital assistants (PDAs).
The city of 456,000 in the Golden State’s Central Valley is setting up an emergency communications system designed and built by IBM to deliver information on demand. Linked by microwave transmissions, the new system will allow police officers and headquarters to communicate with each other during traffic stops, foot patrols, criminal investigations and while moving through and around buildings.
The system is designed to allow officers to:
• Download mug shots and live streaming video of suspects and unfolding police situations
• Transmit crime scene images to headquarters
• Access law enforcement databases
• File police reports
• Instant message colleagues in the field and at the station house.
Fresno anticipates that the system will also enable police offers to dispense "e-tickets" for speeding and other infractions, according to Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer.
"Police officers need to be outside the cruiser much of the time to do their jobs properly," said Dyer. "It's the best way to build relationships with citizens and to ensure the safety of the officers and the public. This system should empower the officer to perform better on the job."
While the Fresno Police Department's 250 patrol cars currently have a data communications system, it is not encrypted for privacy and is too slow to handle new data types like video. Fresno also expects to install the new system in its police motorcycles, detective vehicles and helicopters.
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