HPD has laptops in every squad carThe Hudson Police Department has taken a major step forward in upgrading the technology they use to do their job. All HPD squad cars, nine in all, are now equipped with laptop computers.
By: Meg Heaton, Hudson Star-Observer
The Hudson Police Department has taken a major step forward in upgrading the technology they use to do their job.
All HPD squad cars, nine in all, are now equipped with laptop computers. The equipment was purchased with money provided in two separate state grants and from $67,000 allocated by the city for technology and equipment improvements.
“The computers are part of the commitment the Mayor (Dean Knudson) made when he took office to upgrade our equipment and move the department forward,” said Chief Marty Jensen.
The computers connect officers directly to a mobile data base and records management system which allows them to look up and check driving records in minutes by inputting a driver’s license or plate number from the scene of a traffic stop or accident. That information is sent directly to the officer’s computer rather than being broadcast over the radio.
When a call comes into the 911 dispatch center, the record of that call can go directly to the officer who is responding, providing them important information again without broadcasting it over the radio.
The software includes an automated ticket writing program that downloads all the pertinent information from a driver’s record and should cut the time needed to complete a ticket from about 10 minutes to two.
In the coming weeks, officers will be able also save time by simply downloading everything they did to the department’s main computer at the end of their shift. The reports can then be sent electronically to the state and the municipal court as needed.
Jensen said enhancements that will be added in the coming months will provide for a GPS in the computers that will instantaneously pinpoint an officer’s location on any stop, an important safety feature for the department. Officers will also be able to complete accident reports on the scene, importing all the necessary information onto a report template that will include a diagram drawn by the officer. Some of the city’s major intersections will be pre-programmed into the system to make it even more efficient. With each squad equipped with a thermal printer, drivers can get a copy of the report before they leave the scene.
The computers have already been in use for several months by officers Geoff Willems and James Van Dusen. Both give the system high marks.
Jensen said that he hopes to be able to add an additional two officers to the patrol staff which would allow him to have at least three to four officers on duty with a supervisor around the clock. With two new officers, shifts would likely go to 10 hours a day which would allow for better police coverage and better work schedules for the officers. Plans also call for the addition of onboard digital cameras in squad cars.
While he is mindful of the impact the economic downturn is having on all areas of government, he continues to hope that there is a new and larger facility in the department’s future.