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Back to Archives | Back to September 2004 Contents 

Advances and Applications

Where do the good ideas come from?

In this column, we offer our readers the opportunity to learn about - and benefit from - some of the cutting-edge technologies being implemented by law enforcement colleagues around the world.

Oregon Police Install Solar-Powered Lights in School Zones
Solar Traffic Controls LLC, a designer and manufacturer of solar-powered traffic systems, announces the installation of its solar-powered flashing beacons by the Ontario, Oregon, Police Department (OPD).

"We were hoping for something that would really attract people's attention," OPD Captain Mark Alexander told the Argus Observer. "It seems like people get used to seeing the signs and they don't pay attention to them anymore."

The systems' flashing yellow lights alert motorists to the 20-mile-per-hour speed limit in school zones and programmed to operate from Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. Most important, the powerful lights caution motorists to reduce their speed, thereby increasing safety at school crossing zones and preventing any fatality.

OPD Chief Mike Kee said the lights "really make an impact, especially in low light conditions. You just can't miss them."

The solar-powered system requires no electric power and was easily installed by two public works employees. It uses a single 65-watt solar module, dual 12-inch LED lamps, and a programmable clock for automatic activation.

Battery life on these systems is typically three to six years. The average solar panel has a lifetime in excess of 10 years and is often warranted to perform for 20 years. Solar flasher systems are self-contained and independent of the power grid. Traffic safety continues if the power goes out.

For more information, click here, and insert number 100 in the box on the Reader Service Number response service.

Ohio Agency Reports Continued Satisfaction with Human Resource Software
Technical Difference Incorporated announces that the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office (HCSO) in Cincinnati, Ohio, has used the company's People-Trak human resource software since 1999 and reports that the system is still meeting the agency's needs. The HCSO acquired People-Trak because the software it had been using was not Y2K-compliant.

In addition to a Y2K-compliant human resource information system (HRIS), Connie Bernard, the HCSO fiscal officer, also needed to find a system that could handle the human resource and fiscal needs of her office, which employs more than 1,000 people and hires about 100 workers a year. "We are hiring on an ongoing basis," said Bernard. "The various union employees have earned vacation time differently at different times of their contracts," she added. Bernard. "Depending on how many years of service they have, they earn a different amount each bi-weekly pay period."

While doing her research, Connie Bernard homed in on People-Trak, a PC-based HRIS for organizations with 10 to 10,000 employees."I'm not a techie," she said, "so I was relieved when I found People-Trak very user friendly. We easily customized the People-Trak system to fit our needs."

Nearly five years later, Connie Bernard and the HCSO are still happily using the personnel management and position control modules. "We use the personnel management module with great frequency," she said. "We have about 20 users on that module. We track all the personal information on individual employee evaluations, payroll, benefits, and leave time." The position control module is used to track appropriated staff positions.

For more information, click here, and insert number 101 in the box on the Reader Service Number response service.

Massachusetts Police Department Uses Mapping Technology to Fight Crime
The MapInfo Corporation announces that the Danvers, Massachusetts, Police Department is using its mapping software to analyze, detect, and prevent crime. With MapInfo software, the Danvers Police Department maps crime patterns and identifies areas where crime occurs most frequently. Instant visual analysis from these maps directs the Danvers Police Department to increase patrols in areas of frequent criminal activity.

The police department also uses MapInfo software to chart trends and identify clusters and regions where crime has increased or decreased. This visual information helps the Danvers Police Department develop long-term strategies for the town.

"Many of the police officers have commented they like having the visual maps instead of looking at a spreadsheet of locations because it helps them make better decisions about addressing crime problems," said Christopher Bruce, public safety analyst for the Danvers Police Department. "Even though we know the layout of the town in our heads, seeing a visual representation on a map with color coding and graduated symbols really makes it clear as to where incidents are occurring and how often. We can even use the technology to assist with confirming a likely suspect for a particular crime."

Information about crime trends and patterns is also shared with the residents of Danvers on the department's Web site, ( Citizens use this information to institute neighborhood watch programs or avoid parking in an area that may have a recent spike in car thefts.

For more information, click here, and insert number 102 in the box on the Reader Service Number response service.



From The Police Chief, vol. 71, no. 9, September 2004. Copyright held by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, 515 North Washington Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 USA.

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