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Laramie, Wyo. LE gets mobile data computers

The Laramie Police Department, Fire Department and Albany County Sheriff’s Office will soon be using an integrated computer system that will allow them access to their main computer system from their vehicles.

Vehicles from all three agencies will be outfitted with mobile data computers that give them access to much of the same information the dispatcher uses. LPD Commander Dale Stalder said the computers will save time on relaying information, provide more clear information and will cut down on radio traffic.

Albany County will be one of few counties in the area to use the new system, Stalder said. The system won’t be integrated with WYOLink, which offers a comparable system, but will compliment the radio system’s capabilities.

Many law enforcement agencies are using mobile data terminals, similar to the mobile data computers that Albany County will use. The difference, Stalder said, is that the terminals are typically fixed in the cars while the computers can be taken in and out of the cars, but they serve the same purpose.

The computers are tied into the LPD’s local CAD (Computer Aided Dispatch) system as well as the state’s NCIC (National Crime Information Center) system.

“All of this comes out of a grant that we got back in 2001,” Stalder said. “What we believe we can do is take these mobile data units and put them out in police cars, sheriffs’ cars and fire department vehicles and make all of our field units, as well as our entire operation, more effective.”

The grant, which was through the Cops MORE (Making Officer Redeployment Effective) program, was for just under $250,000. Stalder said the program has been eliminated, but Laramie will still reap the benefits.

There will be a total of 30 computers, 13 for the sheriff and police departments and four for the fire department.

Each of the agencies using the units will have access to different functions within the system, depending on the agency.

LFD will have access to location information, directions, a list of times and various information related to the calls and will also be able to type a report while still at the location and relay it back to dispatch.

LPD can use the system to do driver’s license and registration queries in the car without relying on the dispatcher as well as create reports in the field and relay direction and location information to and from dispatch.

Being able to type a description on location as opposed to relying on memory will allow officers to be more descriptive and thorough.

The real benefit, Stalder said, is that agencies will have access to all necessary information going into their respective situations. Rather than tying up the dispatcher, users can access the information in written form that they can check without having to recall all the details from memory.

In the case of a large incident, the system will allow the agencies to work together on assignments and share information without excessive use of the radio. With a written description, the information is clearer and less subject to misinterpretation, Stalder said.

When a call comes into the dispatch, whoever takes the call will type the related information into the system. The dispatcher will then call the appropriate officer and send the information to the officer via the mobile data computer.

The information will appear on the screen of the computer in the officer’s vehicle and the computer will chirp to let the officer know there is new information. The officer then responds to the call using the computer and the appropriate information is then exchanged while on the way to the location of the incident, much e-mail or instant messenging.

“They won’t tie up the radio as much,” Stalder said. “The officer can remember the information because it’s right in front of him and he doesn’t have to ask again ‘what was that subject wearing?’ It’s right there.”

The system will also save time on everyday tasks. Stalder said that the ability to run license plates on the system will also save a lot of time for both dispatchers and officers.

“Our savings in time comes from not having to move that information back and forth,” Stalder said. “They never have to exchange a word between the dispatcher and the officer out in the field.”

Stalder said in many situations the entire call on an incident can be done through the computer system.

“It’s all point and click,” Stalder said.

The agencies are setting up a licensed radio frequency to allow the system to run on a wireless signal. Because it’s set up that way, there is no limit to the number of computers that can be on the system at the same time.

There was some trouble getting the system online with the state’s NCIC system, but nothing Stalder said would be too much trouble to get working. LPD will be installing the computers in early February and Stalder hopes to have them online shortly after that.

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