Pa. Linking Patrol Cars to Databases

The Pennsylvania State Police is the latest public safety agency to enable workers to access information on vehicle-mounted laptop computers.

Police officials in Pennsylvania say computer technology could liberate patrolmen from bureaucratic requirements so they can spend more time enforcing the law.

Using the "mobile offices," troopers will be able to request information on national and state vehicle registrations, driver's licenses and wanted people.

Data will be transmitted via the Statewide Public Safety Radio System.

Negotiations on a contract for as many as 1,100 mobile offices are expected to stretch until late September, said Ronald Wilt, program manager for the State Police Bureau of Technology Services. The contract could be worth US$12 million to $15 million. Motorola Inc. is the preferred supplier to install laptop computers with wireless capabilities in State Police patrol vehicles.

The department has also awarded Lockheed Martin Management Data Systems a $9 million contract to integrate the new Criminal Investigative/Traffic Safety Incident Information Management System. Wilt said as the department develops the IIMS during the next three years: * Police will be able to file reports electronically to headquarters.

* Dispatch centers will be able to send maps to assist in locating incidents.

* Units will have secure communications with other cars and the station.

* Troopers will be able to scan bar codes on driver's licenses and registrations.

The State Police estimated that a trooper spends about four hours completing paperwork for each hour assigned to an incident. When the system is in place, that time could be cut by half or more.

The Harrisburg police station will receive the mobile offices in stages from November through April, Wilt said. The rest of the force will be equipped during a subsequent 18-month period, he added.

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