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November 12, 2004
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N.C. police to get mobile data terminals for cars

By Fawn Roark, Mountain Times
North Carolina

North Carolina The Jefferson Police Department will be receiving laptop computers or mobile data terminals for their police cars that will help them be safer and more efficient, according to Police Chief David Neaves.

Neaves approached the Jefferson Board of Aldermen at their recent meeting and requested that the Police Department be able to order the computers and programs that will cost the town about $4,600 per car. The town has three cars that need to be outfitted and Neaves had researched the programs and equipment until he came up with a price that he felt was more reasonable and affordable.

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The Highway Patrol has had mobile data terminals in their vehicles for about five years, Neaves noted. He said that the system saves so much time and helps increase the safety of the officers because it helps them know who they are stopping and what that person’s criminal history is before they are ever stopped.

"This new program will allow us to search by a tag number and find out if the car is stolen. If the driver of the car is the registered owner, we will know before we ever stop them if they have ever been charged with assaulting an officer or if their license is revoked or if they are driving a stolen vehicle," Neaves explained.

"Officer safety is the main thing if it didn''t help us in any other way. The officer safety in itself makes it worth the money, but we can also use the laptops to work on grants, do our reports on the road from wrecks to B&E''s. That means we will be more visible to the public. We can pull off on the edge of the road, run radar and be doing paperwork in our car. When we’re done, all we have to do is come by the office and print it out."

Neaves said the computers will also be so much quicker than having to use the traditional means of communication. Currently they have to use their police radio to ask the communications department, who may be busy with a 911 call or any other various things, to look up tag numbers or license numbers when they will soon be able to look up all the information themselves in their car.

"This makes it so much faster and easier for everyone because we won''t have to radio to dispatch and wait for them to get the information for us. A lot of times they will be in the middle of something else and it can take several minutes for them to get the information back to us. Now within three seconds, we will know so much important information that can help us do our job safer," Neaves noted.

The new programs should be up and running by December 15th. Within a year, the mobile data terminal will show a photo of a person when a driver''s license number or a name is given, according to Neaves. This will help eliminate drivers using someone else''s name or driver''s license number when they are stopped because a photo will be shown immediately on the screen letting officers know the person they have stopped is attempting to use someone else’s information.

Another great feature is that the police officers can instantly communicate using their mobile data terminals with any other law enforcement officer across the state who is online. "If we have someone pulled and have a question about them, we can send a message to a law enforcement officer in Watauga or on the coast or wherever and within seconds, they will have typed back whether or not they know the individual and important things we should know," Neaves explained.

"The Highway Patrol loves these and I think it will be a real good thing for us. Trooper Chuck Olive and Jimmy Cox both told me that other than their firearm, they would rather give up any other piece of their equipment than their mobile data terminal. It''s amazing all the things it can do."



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