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Police Grants Article

November 04, 2004

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Penn. Police Department to Use Grant on Technology

Upgrade to Help Ease Paperwork For Allentown Officers

By Angela Pomponio, Allentown (Penn.) Morning Call

Allentown, Penn. police will receive nearly $1 million from the federal government for a long-anticipated technology upgrade that should mean less paperwork shuffling for officers.

About 60 laptop computers are first on the spending list with the grant from the Department of Justice's Community Oriented Policing Services office, city officials announced Wednesday. That's because the 20-year-old records management system isn't Windows-based and requires a computer analyst to identify crime trends for the department, officials said.

"Seems like forever," Assistant Chief Ronald Manescu said of waiting for the improvement. "We're looking forward to getting ... modern and up to date with this grant."

The laptops will allow officers to file incident reports and view mugshots without leaving their patrol cars, while commanders will be able to access or estimate future crime figures from anywhere, Manescu said.

To do that now, police have to walk into headquarters because the department's three records systems "can't talk to one another," Manescu said.

"This will allow us to not only have these systems communicate with each other, but it will keep officers out there instead of bringing them in ," Manescu said.

The estimated cost of the new hardware is $491,000. Licensing fees for 100 users is expected to cost $230,000. The remaining money will be used for application fees.

Manescu said the program materials probably will go out to bid by the end of this month and be up and running by late next year.

The life expectancy of the new records management program is five to 10 years.

City officials also hoped to include EMS and Fire Department records systems in the changes, but the COPS grant is restricted to law enforcement purposes, Manescu said.

Such an endeavor would cost $12 million or more, Manescu said.