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March 05, 2004
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New Software Could Give Police More Time to Look For Speeders

Traffic scofflaws beware: McHenry County police have found a way to spend even more time on the roads looking for you.

Law enforcement agencies in the county, along with the McHenry County Circuit Clerk''s office, are planning to bring computerized ticketing into squad cars in the coming months, a measure expected to save officers dozens of hours a year in paperwork time.

"We''re looking at an average time savings of four minutes per ticket," Lake in the Hills Police Chief James Wales said. "We write 3,000 to 4,000 tickets per year, so that adds up to quite a few hours that could be used for patrol."

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Using special software for laptop computers in squad cars, the system links patrol officers to the Illinois Secretary of State''s office and McHenry County Circuit Clerk''s office.

When writing a ticket, an officer will need to enter only a driver''s license number and an offense. The rest of the driver''s information, along with court dates, will fill in automatically and be sent to state and county records. Citations then will be printed inside the squad car.

The time savings extends to the clerk''s office, which no longer would need staff to enter ticket information into its system, Circuit Clerk Vernon W. Kays said.

Besides saving time, the system could save police officers from injury or worse, proponents say.

A component of the software will report audibly to officers checking on a driver''s background or a license plate. That will allow patrol officers to keep their eyes on the road instead of reading a computer screen while driving.

"It will eliminate the officer''s need to constantly look down," Wales said.

The system''s server will cost between $15,000 and $20,000, money that will come from Kays'' office. Software for on-board laptops will cost between $1,000 and $1,500 per vehicle.

Wales said he''ll bring his request for funding to the village board later this month. Other departments - perhaps all departments in the county - may follow suit.

Kays and police departments hope to offset those costs with time and manpower savings provided by the system.

"With the man-hour savings, it will eventually pay for itself," Wales said.

Speeders: System could pay for itself



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