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A few days old but pretty cool nonetheless.......
Bad boys, bad boys fear the new laptops
By Paul M. Furfari/ Staff Writer
Thursday, December 9, 2004

Updated computers are beginning to improve the effectiveness of patrolmen on Bedford's streets.

Loaded with new software and technology, the laptops are making department communications and partnership more streamlined and powerful.

"This is a major step in the right direction for us regarding technology and regional information sharing," said Lt. Scott Jones.

The new computers are loaded with software that Jones said will enhance communications within the Police Department and improve information sharing between Bedford and other local North Eastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council departments (NEMLEC).

The laptops that were replaced were running Microsoft Windows 95, a 10-year-old operating system, the new laptops include a faster, more functional operating system.

"The hardware is in place, it's just a matter of tweaking the server over in Concord and making sure everything's working over on that end," said Jones.

Once connections are stabilized between the cruisers and the server, the laptops will allow patrolmen to obtain a range of information and will make performing checks during motor vehicle stops more efficient.

Before the new systems were installed, an officer would have to contact a dispatcher to perform a criminal history check of subjects in a motor vehicle stop. The new software allows the officer to perform that check himself by connecting his laptop to databases.

"Now right from the car, he or she has access to the Board of Probation file," Jones said. "If a Bedford officer wanted to communicate with an officer from another town, if they wanted to relay traffic stops, there's a component there where we're able to share some information."

Future modules that will be applied to the software will allow an officer to enter in driver information and receive a picture of the driver to determine if the driver's license is authentic.

Jones said the State Police have had success in catching drivers with fake identification using the system.

In addition, officers will have access to the department's "in-house record management system. This is key so that officers can access anything they can as if they were in the station," Jones said. "We were able to do that before, but again, with the changes in technology we were able to get more information, more wireless information over this network than we were before."

The computers also have the benefit of being able to transfer wireless data at faster rates than before.

"You'd be typing a minute ahead of what was on the screen, it was just so slow," he said.

Future modules that will be applied to the system will allow officers to collect data, such as anti-terrorism profile data, and a fingerprint identification system that will allow officers to instantly get fingerprint data on subjects.

All of the benefits of the systems, Jones said, are available to the department through the work of Chief James Hicks. Hicks, he said, worked persistently to ensure that a regional system could be established so Bedford and surrounding departments could benefit from technology advancements.

"The chief has been instrumental in getting this set up with the different agencies and getting our hardware up to snuff," Jones said. "He's been very diligent in getting all these departments together, and making this system work."

Hicks and Bedford Police Department hope that with the regional information sharing, more communities will join NEMLEC, and will see the benefits in increased, fluid communication.

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They've been deployed for two months but the system is still not working properly. Of course, they are one up on my department. Our computers were removed from our cars in early August for a quick upgrade and a re-install. I'm still waiting on the re-install!
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