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Spokane Cops.Com Computers Being Installed In Cruisers

Tue., Dec. 2, 1997

Spokane police officers soon will be online, even when they’re on the streets.

Technicians are installing computers in 70 of the department’s squad cars.

The terminals will give officers instant access to information that wasn’t readily available to them in the past, Chief Terry Mangan said Monday.

Patrol officers currently rely on radio dispatchers to provide them with information about vehicle registrations, driver’s licenses and outstanding warrants.

The dispatchers must look the information up on their computers, then relay the facts over the radio to officers, who write it down on notepads or reports.

The new system will allow officers to look up the information directly from their cars. That will free up dispatchers to pay more attention to pressing calls and save time for officers, Mangan said.

“This will change, literally, the way we do business in the community,” he said. “It will mean a great increase in efficiency.”

The new computers also will allow dispatchers to send out distress signals or other important bulletins to all officers on duty at a given time. The terminals will store such messages until the officer reads them.

Police Lt. Jim Culp said busy patrol officers now sometimes miss radio signals. “Not everyone gets the message all the time,” Culp said. “This will help alleviate that.”

Police departments across the nation, including those in Seattle and Tacoma, use similar technology.

The computers cost about $1.6 million and were paid for through federal grants and city council loans. Thirty of them have already been installed. They are part of a 10-year, $10-million project that eventually will tie the department’s computer-aided dispatch program and records department together, Mangan said.

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