In the last decade, law enforcement patrol vehicles have become more like high-tech offices than the old-fashioned prowl cars of the past. Today's officer has more technology in his or her patrol unit than astronauts had in the space shuttle. And like any high-tech office, the new patrol car cabin is built around the presence of a powerful computer.
We've written numerous articles on mobile computers here in POLICE Magazine over the years. They are the rock stars of police technology. They can survive drops and spills, and I've even seen the hard disk recovered from one after some scumbag shot at a cop with a .45 caliber pistol and put a round through the computer. But the truth is that without the right software and the right peripherals the most expensive, powerful, rugged police computer system is very much like a rock star, a rock star with no musical instrument and no microphone.
It would be difficult for anyone to devise a short summation of all of the capabilities of law enforcement software. These programs run the gamut from report writing spreadsheets to multiple database compilers that can alert officers to the backgrounds of dangerous people encountered during traffic stops. As for peripherals, just about any tool that is common to a computer network can now be miniaturized for use in a patrol car. There are citation printers, and fingerprint scanners, and a wide variety of other peripherals available.
Each year at the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) conference and trade show peripheral manufacturers and software producers show their latest wares. The following is a look at some of the law enforcement market's most popular and useful software and computer peripherals. Our upcoming coverage of this year's IACP show will include additional software and peripherals.
4N6XPRT Systems' AutoStats is now available as a full Windows program compatible with both the 32-bit and 64-bit versions of the Windows OS. The Windows interface offers the familiar layout of the previous DOS interface while making use of the easier navigation provided by a GUI interface, as well as making some of the features of the program, such as DXF output, more noticeable. The AutoStats database contains more than 41,000 model year vehicles, covering model years from the late 1940s through 2011 and selected 2012 model year vehicles. The database contains the standard dimensions such as length, width, wheelbase, height, curb weight, as well as bumper, hood, windshield heights, and acceleration and braking data.
Operating on both mobile data systems and desktop computers, Appriss JusticeXchange offers law enforcement agencies secure access to offender data. JusticeXchange incorporates 60 million booking records and provides access to warrants, photos, probation, and parole records, including local jail and corrections information. The information can be accessed through a secure Internet connection XML interface that is NIEM and CJIS compliant. Agencies in 31 states provide information through JusticeXchange, allowing law enforcement to locate suspects, track down parents who are delinquent in child support, follow suspected drug dealers, and locate missing persons.[PAGEBREAK]
One of the most common computer peripherals in law enforcement vehicles is the citation printer. Brother's RuggedJet is a 4-inch mobile thermal printer that can handle citations, evidence labels, and violations. It prints up to 5 ips and has been engineered to handle bumps, drops, and weather. All RuggedJet models are covered by a two-year bumper-to-bumper warranty.
LEM Solutions produces a wide variety of mounts for vehicle printers, including the Brother PocketJet HP470 and Canon iP100. The company's latest product is a vehicle headrest printer mount for the Zebra RW420 citation printer. The mount features a quick release charging cradle and rapid slide-in, slide-out installation.
New World's Aegis Mobile Computing solution is a tool for increasing officer safety and efficiency in the field. Designed with the help of police officers, Aegis Mobile provides fast and easy access to mission critical information. Fast and intelligent search capabilities are optimized for the mobile environment to reduce information overload for the officer and seamless integration with GIS, Records Management, CAD, and NCIC. Aegis Mobile also offers feature-rich Instant Communication to improve officer communication from mobile to CAD, mobile to mobile, and CAD to mobile. Additional capabilities include in-car mapping, automatic routing directions, and the ability to transfer digital photographs from the field. New World's Aegis Mobile Field-Based Reporting software streamlines reporting processes by automatically importing information from dispatch and NCIC directly into officers' field-based reports, thereby reducing errors and minimizing the data entry required by officers to easily complete field-based reports. Automated workflow enables electronic submission and approval of reports before seamlessly merging into records.[PAGEBREAK]
Spillman's new Mobile 4.6 software gives public safety agencies the tools they need to get to the scene more efficiently. Personnel are able to utilize touch screens and function hot keys, update their status with one click, and access all critical call-related information without leaving the mapping screen. Also included in Mobile 4.6 are full integration capabilities for customers who want to purchase Spillman's new Pictometry interface that allows personnel to view a map image from five different aerial perspectives-north, south, east, west, and above. With Spillman's Pictometry interface, agencies can see all sides of a structure as well as measure its height, area, pitch, and distance from other objects.
Integrated Justice should actually be called "Integrated Justice Databases." The software is essentially a database translator, enabling communication across numerous databases. Integrated Justice is scalable from the smallest agency to the largest. The basic software sells for $5,000 to about $25,000; mobile apps are additional. Mobile app options include vehicle and suspect identification, records management, and investigations management tools.
Zebra's RW 420 is the company's tried-and-true mobile law enforcement printer. Bluetooth enabled, Zebra's RW 420 features a modular design that allows users to choose among wireless options, card readers, and integral accessories such as a vehicle mount for simplified route printing from the road. The RW 420 prints clear and legible e-citations in about one minute, which means fewer citations are dismissed due to inaccurate or illegible information.