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Going Mobile in Law Enforcement Technology

NCJ Number
National Institute of Justice Journal Issue: 238 Dated: January 1999 Pages: 11-16
Date Published
6 pages
Mobile technologies such as the Advanced Law Enforcement Response Technology (ALERT) are being field tested by the Texas Department of Public Safety are streamlining law enforcement; ALERT involves the use of a computer system in patrol cars to record information electronically, reduce the time needed to complete forms, and make officers' jobs easier and safety.
The Texas Transportation Institute at Texas A&M University and the Federal Highway Administration developed this technology. The technology takes the masses of switches and controls out of the cockpit of the patrol car and integrates the vehicle's functions into a system controlled entirely by an onboard touch-screen computer. ALERT cars currently being tested have computer-driven overhead lights, radar, magnetic stripe and barcode readers, license plate readers, enhanced video camera/recording devices, and a global positioning system/automatic vehicle locator. ALERT also includes a handheld, pen-based remote terminal that can communicate with the onboard computer. The technology's open architecture allows police agencies to create a system unique to their needs. The system will give police officers immediate access to State and national databases and the ability to receive and transmit text and graphics in seconds when the technology becomes commercially available. Other emerging mobile technologies the use of laptop computers for a variety of police functions and a database that enables first responders to obtain accurate information during incidents involving hazardous materials. Another program, the COPS MORE program administered by the Department of Justice's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, is equipping officers with new technologies and adding civilians to perform administrative tasks to put more police on the streets. Other programs supported by NIJ further exemplify how police agencies are taking advantage of mobile technologies to improve police services to communities. Photographs and notes

Date Published: January 1, 1999