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Back to Archives | Back to November 2005 Contents 

Technology Talk

Information and Patrol Technology Resources

By G. Matthew Snyder, IACP Technology Center, Alexandria, Virginia






Police Car

he IACP Technology Center has long been committed to delivering useful and timely information technology resources and professional educational opportunities to the IACP membership. The Technology Center coordinates such programs as the IACP Technology Clearinghouse (www.iacptechnology.org), the Law Enforcement Information Technology Standards Council (www.leitsc.org), the Law Enforcement Information Management Section Conference and Exhibition (June 5-9, 2006), and the annual conference educational technology track. These programs and events attract the interest of not only current members but also nonmembers, industry leaders, and representatives of other governmental organizations.

IACP Technology Cars Showcase Cutting-Edge Equipment
To promote this catalog of activities each year, the center showcases a local agency's cutting-edge patrol vehicles. These vehicles represent the latest and most sophisticated patrol technologies available on the market today presented in a strictly noncommercial manner. Although the equipment represents the best of what's available it is not inclusive of all technology available and it does not represent an endorsement of one product over another.

The 2005-2006 technology vehicles debuted at the 112th Annual IACP Conference in Miami Beach, Florida. The vehicles were showcased in the Technology Center's booth in the exhibit hall of the Miami Beach Convention Center. Hundreds of conference attendees visited the booth to collect information on IACP's technology-related programs and services and to see firsthand all of the latest equipment installed and integrated into a standard patrol vehicle. Uniformed officers and IACP staff were present to demonstrate the innovative high-tech equipment installed on the cars. The exchange of information was useful to both the conference delegates and the IACP staff who craft programs throughout the year to meet the technical needs of IACP's members. Throughout 2006 these vehicles will be featured at professional conferences and key meetings of law enforcement technologists.

The Technology Center has found that a display that is free of corporate endorsements and sales personnel is an effective way to get cutting-edge technology in front of law enforcement leaders. This display is not about hype or what is coming down the road next year. The display is a hands-on experience with technology that is on the market and deployable today in whole or in part.

Not every device and system on the vehicles is right for every agency. The IACP personnel and law enforcement officers who staff the various demonstrations throughout the year will guide chiefs through each component that is of interest. In the end, the chief has a firsthand knowledge of how these devices function and connect with each other. More importantly, the chief is aware of the catalog of relevant resources IACP offers to further his or her education in the area of technology.

Given the wide variety of equipment that is available today for installation and use in the field environment, the Technology Center has attempted to cover the market in an organized way. Both of the vehicles built this year have the latest digital video camera system, radar, mobile computer, emergency lighting, prisoner transport system, long gun storage, and pursuit termination technologies. Furthermore, the installers have integrated all the electronic systems to ease their use by the officer on the street. Each system has been ergonomically installed using the latest control heads and structured wiring. The equipment has been professionally installed in a way that maximizes reliability and minimizes the difficulty of isolating problems when they arise. All too often, the fleet manager is vexed by a power or device problem that is difficult to identify due to the many vehicle and peripheral subsystems. The IACP technology cars have systems in place to separate aftermarket components from the vehicles' electrical system to allow for easier troubleshooting. Harmonizing the vehicle and the peripherals is a major feat for the modern police fleet manager.

Two Platforms for Digital Equipment on Display
This year, two distinct platforms have been featured in each vehicle. The first vehicle is a standard Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor. It features Visteon's TACNET system that integrates the mobile computer, Kustom Signal's Eyewitness digital video and Golden Eagle radar, Whelen emergency lighting, and radio controls into a single control head with an innovative heads-up display and control pod. The unification of these complex systems through the TACNET system is revolutionary.

The result is a clean ergonomic cockpit with all of the functionality of a traditional patrol vehicle without the clutter. Visteon promotes the safety aspects of limiting the clutter as a way to reduce distractions and potentially dangerous points of impact during a collision.

What is key to note is that no loss of functionality occurs when the control devices are integrated. This is particularly important due to the complexity and robust features available through the digital video and radar units. The TACNET system serves as a universal plug and play command and control device for the whole range of peripherals on the market regardless of manufacturer. The equipment featured on this car happens to be some of the most technologically advanced commercially available. The ability to see all of these systems interfaced is a unique experience.

The second vehicle, which is also a Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor, features a Panasonic mobile computer mounted in the trunk with a durable remote display and keyboard in the cockpit. This clean design includes the integration of the Panasonic Arbitrator digital video system. The mobile computer configuration allows the user to remove the laptop from the trunk to work outside the car or transfer the computer from one vehicle to another.

The vehicle's control head design is more traditional but still clean and user-friendly. This display represents what a fleet or information technology manager can do to advance the capabilities of existing fleets. The vehicle's console, computer controls, and trunk design are all done to maximize control and utility for the officer.

Emergency Lighting Reflects the Latest Thinking in Visibility
Both vehicles have an array of emergency lighting components and a dual siren system. These products by Whelen Engineering are designed to maximize passive and active warning in both moving and stationary traffic. The light emitting diode (LED) lights allow for high intensity with low power consumption. Management of power draw in a patrol vehicle is becoming more important as we add power-hungry peripherals such as computers, video cameras, speed measurement equipment, and mobile radios.

The mixture of strobe and LED technology represents a trend in public safety that improves long- and short-range patrol vehicle visibility. Configuration of emergency lighting can easily be accomplished by the fleet manager through an intuitive control head programming process. The operator enjoys a great deal of control over the lighting, siren, and public address systems through the ergonomic control head.

Communications Software Promotes Interoperability
Beyond the hardware, the Technology Center has included incident management and communications technology software. Capital Wireless Integrated Wireless Network (CapWIN) software has been installed on both in-car computers and on a handheld PDA computer. This system, which was originally designed to link police, fire, EMS, and transportation authorities in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia, has proven to be a powerful tool that other agencies can consider as an interoperability solution. At a minimum, the lessons learned during the development, design, deployment, and system expansion of CapWIN are of value to agencies beyond the reach of the system.

Subject matter experts are present at each technology car demonstration to discuss the CapWIN system and how it has managed to fill a huge interoperability void in an expansive, politically diverse, geographic area. The CapWIN application is being made available, free of charge, to agencies beyond the Washington metropolitan region. The only requirement to participate is possession of a mobile computer with a compatible wireless communication system to tap into the immense resources CapWIN offers.

Prisoner Containment Systems Improve Officer and Prisoner Safety
Prisoner containment system decisions must take many factors into account. All too often, budget interests get placed before officer and prisoner safety interests. There are many affordable and effective innovative solutions available on the market today.

Both of the technology display vehicles feature Patriot Products prisoner containment systems, rear window screens, long gun secure storage racks, and push bumpers. The rear seat and door panels have been replaced with durable, easy-to-clean plastic. This system increases the space available in the rear seat, eliminates the ability to hide contraband in the back of the car, and makes it easier to decontaminate the back seat after an exposure to body fluids.

The half cage screen eliminates the problem of prisoners kicking out windows, which can result in an escape, a prisoner injury, and expensive damage to doorframes and glass. Most important to the patrol officer, the half cage opens up storage space in the back seat and allows for the driver's seat to recline and slide back, thereby increasing operator comfort.

Pursuit Termination Equipment Mounts on the Underside of the Trunk Lid
In addition to the high-tech electronic equipment, both vehicles have StopStick tire deflation devices. These devices are designed to terminate pursuits safely by being readily available on the underside of the trunk lid.

This system and others like it have proven effective for agencies large and small. Those who have not had the opportunity to handle a tire deflation device are encouraged to learn more about the technology and get hands-on experience with it.

Professional Installation Makes Sure Everything Works Together
This assembly of all of these high-tech components could not occur without a skilled integrator and project manager. Both of the cars were built for the Waynesboro, Virginia, Police Department by Warnock Fleet in New Jersey, under the leadership of Cori Roltsch.

A skilled integrator is critical to insure that all of the complex pieces of equipment work well independently and in an integrated fashion. The engineering and human factors that have to be considered when building such a complex mobile workplace for a dynamic law enforcement environment are quite challenging. Mr. Roltsch's team members leveraged their experience building thousands of police vehicles therefore overcoming the challenges of assembling these high tech cars. It is important to note that these vehicles are ready for use on a patrol shift the day they leave the install facility.

What's to Come for the IACP Technology Cars
In the next 12 months, these cars will travel around the country to promote IACP's technology initiatives and to break down barriers between technology and law enforcement executives. The officers and staff that travel with the vehicles can provide a user's perspective on how each device works, what the strengths and weaknesses are concerning one configuration over another and the benefits that technology and innovation can have on officer safety and efficiency.

This project seeks to facilitate a dialogue that emphasizes the importance of automation and innovative patrol and tactical operations technology. Law enforcement executives can depend on IACP to provide useful, current, and comprehensive guidance to support their technology decision-making process. Long gone are the simpler days of a revolver and a radio car.

IACP members and nonmembers are encouraged to review the objective resources available on information technology, communications technology, incident management, and speed measurement technology at the IACP Technology Clearinghouse Web site (www.IACPtechnology.org), a one-stop shop for peer-to-peer technical guidance is invaluable. The Web site is free to all, thanks to the support of the Federal Highway Administration and Intelligent Transportation Systems Joint Program Office.

In the next few months, the site will be redesigned to accommodate a broader array of technologies. For almost 10 years the Technology Clearinghouse has been the authority for noncommercial technology guidance. The staff of IACP welcomes the opportunity to support and encourage the technical evolution and revolution in police departments of all sizes. ■

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From The Police Chief, vol. 72, no. 11, November 2005. Copyright held by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, 515 North Washington Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 USA.








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