New computers for all patrol vehicles
The Emery County Sheriff's Office deputies and staff members have been in training this past week for the new computers which are being placed in each patrol vehicle. Fatpot Technologies is the company where the computer software was designed specifically for law enforcement purposes. Chris Parkins , along with Aaron Beasley, from Fatpot Technologies were involved in training the Emery County deputies.
Emery County Sheriff Greg Funk is excited about the capabilities these machines have and what it will mean for the safety of the officers. "It will help them save time. Each deputy will be able to complete their reports from their patrol vehicles. There will be electronic transfer of tickets and information to the county attorney's office and for accidents the reports will be shipped directly to the state data base. With the saved time, the officers can spend more time out patrolling."
The training is set-up in modules and after the deputies become accustomed to the computers and the technology they will be introduced to other aspects of the technology. To start out the officers were versed in the programs to generate their incident reports. The deputy begins each shift by logging onto the computer and they start their daily log. Each step along the way is recorded so there is a record of where the officer is and what he is doing at all times. Sheriff Funk said this is a great tool for officer safety. "One of the programs shows a map where all of the deputies cars are pinpointed and we know their exact location at all times. It also shows the Utah Highway Patrol vehicles too. This enables an officer to know where his closest help is and who he can call upon if he needs extra help with a traffic stop or traffic accident or any incident which requires more than one officer. This really gives us peace of mind to know our deputy's locations. Another aspect of the technology is messaging. The computer will read all of the messages to the officer. This is real time communication. If there is a large incident going on and updates are needed frequently, the officer can be kept updated instantaneously.
"The officer will be able to feed in license plate numbers at a traffic stop and receive back the registration information on the stopped vehicle. This will enable him to quickly know who he is dealing with. He will be able to run a driver's license and have all the information come back on the computer screen. If a citation is issued, then the program can automatically fill out the ticket from the information on the driver's license screen and the officer won't have to type in that information and possibly make a mistake," said Sheriff Funk.
The computer can pull up all types of data and information for the officer. You can run property to find out who it belongs to if someone runs down a fence or if cows are out, you can more easily figure out who the property belongs to and if the cows belong to them.
Information is also pulled from the surrounding counties so the deputies are aware of what's going on in the immediate areas surrounding Emery County including Grand County, Sevier County, Carbon and Sanpete counties. Communication between counties has been speeded up with this program.
Another feature the deputies are excited about is the GPS mapping. Each incident they respond to is mapped with GPS coordinates so their exact location is known at all times. Traffic accidents are mapped and detailed information can be shared to get the ambulances to the correct location quickly.
Sheriff Funk said if someone puts a property watch on their house or property, then a fence can be drawn around that property on the map and you can document how many times that property is watched on the computer. This creates a record of the activity on that property.
The sheriff really likes the paperless aspect of the new reporting system for the deputies. They've been writing their reports for years and it will take them a little time to get used to the new method, but he thinks in the long run the officers will really like the change. The officers have a printer in their cars and if a ticket is issued, then a copy of the ticket will print out for the driver.
As incident reports are filed, if further action is required then the detectives are alerted and they will be assigned to a case. Reports can only be amended and adjusted by the original reporting author of the report. Witness statements are scanned in and attached to that case in the file on the computer.
Another aspect of the program is facilities monitoring for power plants, coal mines, schools and other facilities. There will be maps of the facilities including floor plans and information about the facility. There can also be prior information in place in the file for how a situation at any particular facility is to be handled, there can be haz-mat plans and other safety plans that can be brought up in a moment's notice to be used to handle any situation.
At the schools, pre-planned command centers will be displayed as well as staging points for any deputies responding. Floor plans could be printed to give to each of the responding officers so they could become familiar with a particular building.
Another benefit of the new program is the tracking of evidence. Each piece of evidence logged in will be marked with a bar code as it's checked in. It will be recorded and included in a data base. Any inquiries as to what happened to a piece of evidence will show up in the data base and someone can learn where their items are and if they are being held as evidence for the trial or other purposes or if the evidence or property can be released.
Another feature of the program important to a deputy is the data base which will pull up prior involvements in a traffic stop. If a deputy pulls someone over and they say, they never get pulled over, they never speed, then an officer can check just that fast and find out if they're telling the truth. All prior involvements with that driver will be recorded. All of this background information helps to keep the deputy safe, so they know what type of situation they are getting into by stopping that driver.
Sheriff Funk said the officers might be at a school zone, working on their reports, but their presence there in the community acts as a deterrent for speeders. The same is true if they are pulled off the highway between towns. Spotting a patrol vehicle slows drivers down. The deputies can multi-task and everything they need is there for them in their vehicles.
As the officers begin to use the system and their data enters the system, the use of heat mapping will become available. This mapping will show the hot spots for activity. It can show areas where burglaries are occurring, it can show problem areas for speeding, it can show crime zones, drug activity zones, domestic violence calls and other useful information will be calculated and shown on the heat map. Every incident will receive a latitude and longitude reading.
Sheriff Funk said most of the officers see learning these new programs as a challenge. They've already discovered ways to personalize the program for their own needs and what will work well for them. Some of them found the calendars and recorded their days on and off and what shifts they are on for the month. The possibilities are really endless with this state of the art technology. "They are excited to use the new technology, they see the benefits. Safety is our first concern, these officers put their lives on the line each day. We want to make sure they return home each night. These deputies belong to all of us," said Sheriff Funk.
Deputy Robby Riley is one of the deputies that's trained on the new system and he's been helping acquaint others to its use. Riley said he starts from home and logs in and says he's at work. This begins his daily log. Next he calibrates his radar system. Riley said one of the things he's learned is how to use the hot keys, where you push a specific key on the keyboard and it will take you directly to the traffic screen, mapping, gps coordinates, and other frequently used screens.
Riley said, "I really like it. It will take some adjusting, but with this new system, we will generate all the reports from our vehicles. We can write our reports, while the details are fresh in our minds. We won't have to visit the sheriff's office nearly as much. The officer presence in the communities will really increase. On night shift, we go around and check all the businesses. We check vehicle speeds, we have a north, south and a central car as well as a Green River car. Now the deputies can stay in their areas and write their reports, they won't have to leave their area and they will be available to answer any calls that come up. The officers will be able to take care of a lot more things that won't have to be run through dispatch. If we're not sure the location of a call, then the mapping will draw us a path from where we are to where we need to go to answer the call. We can also calculate the distance from a drug stop, to a school zone to see if we're in a drug free zone."
Riley showed how the dispatch screen works which has all the active calls the officers are out on at any given time as well as the calls from neighboring counties. "It's good to monitor the dispatch screen so we know what's going on around us. These computers will really help us stay connected. We can log in when we are at the sheriff's office too," said Riley.
Riley said he always wanted to be a police officer. When he started a family, he wanted a stable income so he became a police officer. "There's always going to be a need for it. It feels good to help people, it makes you feel like you've accomplished something. This new system is really going to save us time. One of the trainers said a routine traffic stop was 12-15 minutes and now it's down to 5-7 minutes."
With the installation of the new equipment in the patrol vehicles, Emery County's system will be compatible to systems in surrounding counties and will make communication between law enforcement agencies easier.
The cost for the system was $95,000 for the equipment and there will be a yearly $20,000 licensing fee.