Newport News (Va.) cops use mobile computing to increase situational awareness
P1 Tech Q&A: Master Police Officer Dennis J. Pointer of the Newport News Police Department
I’m in the truly unenviable position of being on the receiving end of between 100 and 200 public relations “pitches” a month, inviting me to “get a briefing” from some “expert” on some sort of product or service. Most of the time the item/company/person in question would be of no interest to me or the people who read PoliceOne, but every so often something comes across the transom that demands my attention. A few weeks ago I got an email indicating that the Newport News (Va.) Police Department’s 439 officers would soon be getting “cutting-edge solution that improves their situational awareness and productivity, and ultimately, the safety of Newport News citizens.”
Sounds like so much marketing mumbo-jumbo, right? Yeah me too, but having personally been the author exactly this sort of marketing mumbo-jumbo in my life before PoliceOne, I could see in it some serious potential, so I read and reread the note. This “force multiplier” technology would enable those 439 cops to use the cellular telephone network to access software applications from the department’s data center. Because those applications run on virtualized servers in the data center rather than individual computing devices, IT management is streamlined. In the event that one server fails, applications failover to another server — providing officers with a seamless computing experience.
All this would be assembled by CDW Government, a technology solutions advisor (a.k.a. “reseller”) to law enforcement agencies across the country, and would combine technologies from companies including Accelera Solutions, Citrix XenApp, and Panasonic Toughbook. Every one of those companies is a heavy-hitter, believe me.
Putting It All Together
Just a few days after my decision was made, I was able to connect — via my newfound PR buddy, Morgan — with Master Police Officer Dennis J. Pointer of the Newport News PD, to get a sense of what this new solution is doing to help the cops in that department. Master Police Officer Dennis J. Pointer has served the Newport News Police Department for 22 years, and is currently assigned to the Department’s Special Operations Division. MPO Pointer is a member of the Motor Carrier Unit and the Crash Reconstruction Team, and is also a Virginia State Certified firearms instructor, radar instructor, and DUI detection and apprehension instructor.
I emailed off my questions, and a few days later got the following replies. What follows is the outcome of that exchange.
PoliceOne: What exactly does the technology do?
PoliceOne: When did using the technology become a regular part of your routine?
PoliceOne: How does this solution make your life easier?
Other applications allow us to connect with local, state, and Federal databases while on patrol. The technology is a big time saver —we no longer have to spend 20 minutes driving to the office to look something up or file a report, and paperwork that could previously take up to a week to file can now be done in real time from our vehicles.
PoliceOne: How does it impact your success?
Viola! An interesting communications technology story! Thanks to MPO Pointer for taking time to answer my questions, and to the PR person who initiated this article by actually reading the stuff I write about and sending me something that made sense for me to pursue. I’m taking off the month of December (at least as it relates to writing technology stories) but will return in January with something new. Perhaps something you use on patrol. Send me an email if you have any suggestions on what I should be looking at in 2012.
Stay safe my friends.
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