Lenawee County patrol vehicles receive new computer system
Tecumseh Police Chief Troy Stern is pleased his officers can work a little faster with recently installed police car technology, but he’s even happier the new technology will improve safety. No longer forced to stare down at a computer screen or at a citation book, officers can focus on what is happening at the scene.“It allows more time for the officers to do what they’re supposed to be doing. They can still pay attention to what’s going on in front of them,” said Stern. “I’m looking at the efficiency, but also with officer safety.”Officers have had computers in their vehicles for a while, but now can access information from other departments around the county. Information that once required phone calls to obtain is now available with the click of a button.Another new addition is a small printer that can print out a citation at the same time electronic copies are sent to the court system and back to the station. With a swipe of a driver’s license during a traffic stop or an accident, an officer can determine if there are any outstanding warrants on those involved as well as show the driving status of each driver.“It’s all done electronically,” Stern said. “It’s the same system we have in the office.”In sensitive situations, the dispatcher can contact officers through the computers as well. Previously all calls came across the radio, allowing the general public to hear.“Sometimes that’s a disadvantage to us,” said Stern. If the police are trying to move quickly to apprehend a subject, a radio call can alert the wrong people that the police are on the way. With direct contact through the computers, the police can move quickly to apprehend dangerous subjects.Another big advantage to the mobile computer system is improved communication throughout the county. Officers are not always able to contact other departments in the country to discover local crime issues that cross municipal boundaries.“We would have to physically pick up the phone,” Stern said. “This is the first time in Lenawee County that we’ve had all agencies on the same system.”Now if there is an issue in Raisin Township or Clinton, officers can find out immediately, instead of learning days later a similar criminal situation was happening next door. Transient crime has not been a large problem in Tecumseh, but with the speed and information available from the new system, police are more likely to catch transient criminals before they move on to the next town.Not only does the new system provide immediate benefits for officers and the community, the potential for more advances is also in place. The goal is for the entire state to be online with the system, which Stern believes will happen in the next couple of years. Once software communication is worked out, Stern sees the ease of communication happening now in Lenawee County to include every police department in the country.Locally, Stern plans to set up a process where citizens can report crimes without having to call or even come into the police station. “It would be primarily for crimes without suspects,” said Stern.The process to the installation of the new software has been ongoing for the last nine to 12 months. To sign into the computers each officer has a pass code and carries a fob with a numerical code that changes on a minute-by-minute basis. Without both a pass code and the proper number off the fob, an officer is shut out of the system.“That prevents the general public from accessing the system,” Stern said.The state-of-the-art technology upgrades are not through in Lenawee County. “We’re looking for another major upgrade in August,” said Stern.The police officers continue to get comfortable with the changes in their cars and how the software affects how each works. Stern believes the adjustment period could last from six months to a year, but has confidence the end result will be increased efficiency and safety.“This has been a long process, but has been very beneficial to this point,” Stern said.