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Tickfaw police go high-tech

Aimee Yee

Daily Star Staff Writer

TICKFAW -- Officers at the Tickfaw Police Department are breathing sighs of relief now that they have the capability of knowing how dangerous a suspect is before they exit their patrol cars.

Lt. Mike Roach sat at his desk Wednesday afternoon, showing off a new, high-tech tool to fight crime -- specialized software. Through laptop computers, officers are using an information sharing software called Thinkstream that gets results in the blink of an eye.

With the quick entry of a driver's license number, officers learn exactly who they're dealing with instead of walking into dangerous situations blindly, Roach explained. It allows officers in the field to access instantly and simultaneously local, state and national databases from inside their patrol car.

Impact already being felt

Although the software was installed less than two weeks ago, officers are already feeling the impact of its success.

Just days after their patrol cars began running the software, Officer Mike Miller said he saw the difference it made.

He pulled over a driver during a routine traffic stop, called in to the Tangipahoa Parish sheriff's dispatch and then entered the driver's license number into Thinkstream.

A red flash immediately showed across the screen that the driver had a record with the state and the Department of Motor Vehicles. The man had been arrested several times for assault, battery and murder.

While the suspect only got a ticket during the traffic stop, the information let Miller know to handle the situation with extreme caution and to stay alert, he said.

Another officer used the software after he stopped a car and noticed that the man tried to use his brother's driver's license number. The picture on the computer copy of his driver's license didn't match, so he got an extra ticket for misrepresentation.

Officers said Thinkstream has taken the burden off the sheriff's dispatchers who are responsible for handling calls in six of the parish's nine municipalities, Tickfaw Police Chief Jimmy Sparacello said. Before the new system, officers would have to radio a dispatcher to check licenses and then wait for the dispatcher to check several databases before getting their information. Now, officers can enter a license plate number and get a name, criminal history and picture of the suspect, within a matter of seconds.

In addition to keeping officers safe because they can check records and criminal histories before they even leave the cars, the new system saves time, allowing for more productivity in the field, which eventually leads to more arrests and a safer community.

Moving into 21st century

"Thinkstream has taken a small town like Tickfaw and moved us into the 21st century -- we're loving it. We're small, but we're here," Sparacello said.

And Tickfaw, a village of less than 800 residents, is the first municipality in Tangipahoa Parish to join larger Louisiana cities in using the high-tech equipment to fight crime.

The Louisiana network is considered the largest civil and criminal information network in the nation, Thinkstream CEO Barry Bellue said.

"It's a technological breakthrough that can help save civilians and officers' lives and at the same time put criminals behind bars."

The Thinkstream technology has already proven beneficial as well, Roach said. A sheriff's deputy was trying to get information from dispatch on a suspect when the state's computers went down.

"So one of our officers heard the call, used his computer and ran it (the suspect's information) and gave it to the dispatcher and deputy," Sparacello said.

Arrests since the software was installed are showing that Thinkstream works well, Sparacello said.

Not only can officers access information like felony and misdemeanor arrest warrants they can also get sex registrant status, domestic violence background, restraining orders and previous contact with police, Roach explained. The system also allows access to FBI databases and national records, such as the National Criminal Information Computer.



© Hammond Star
 

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Thread Killa
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Call me stupid, but don't you have to get out of the car, get the license, then enter it?
It would seem the initial contact is the dangerous one.
 

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SOT_II said:
Call me stupid, but don't you have to get out of the car, get the license, then enter it?
It would seem the initial contact is the dangerous one.
Plus, you should remain alert no matter who the stop involves. Remember what all the instructors always say, "don't become complacent". Yeah I like MDT's but don't just stroll up to a M/V whose operator has no BOP and expect everything to go smoothly
 
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The Thinkstream software was designed with Officer safety in mind. Without getting out of their vehicle, the officer can run the license plate, within 10-15 seconds have the vehicle information including the registered owner, and seconds later have any applicable criminal history, outstanding warrants,as well as DMV data including the D/L number and photo, etc, available for review -- all before having to approach the vehicle. If the registered owner comes back with criminal history, say violence against a law officer, appropriate care can be taken prior to approaching the vehicle. Likewise, if the owner is shown to be a 60 year old white male and the driver is a young black female, appropriate care can be taken in approaching the vehicle. Any NCIC warrants would also be flagged, including indications of 'armed and dangerous' ' approach with cuation' etc, alerting the officer(s) to be cautious.

tsjeff
(employee of Thinkstream Inc. Baton Rouge Louisiana)
 

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Thread Killa
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Ummm no I mean the DRIVERS license....lets say a car is stolen, not reported yet...running th plate doesn't mean $hit for safety's sake.

TSJEFF said:
The Thinkstream software was designed with Officer safety in mind. Without getting out of their vehicle, the officer can run the license plate, within 10-15 seconds have the vehicle information including the registered owner, and seconds later have any applicable criminal history, outstanding warrants,as well as DMV data including the D/L number and photo, etc, available for review -- all before having to approach the vehicle. If the registered owner comes back with criminal history, say violence against a law officer, appropriate care can be taken prior to approaching the vehicle. Likewise, if the owner is shown to be a 60 year old white male and the driver is a young black female, appropriate care can be taken in approaching the vehicle. Any NCIC warrants would also be flagged, including indications of 'armed and dangerous' ' approach with cuation' etc, alerting the officer(s) to be cautious.

tsjeff
(employee of Thinkstream Inc. Baton Rouge Louisiana)
 
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SOT_II said:
Ummm no I mean the DRIVERS license....lets say a car is stolen, not reported yet...running th plate doesn't mean $hit for safety's sake.
Perhaps I wasn't clear. The officer runs the license plate and gets data back which includes the registered owners drivers license data including the DMV photo. Assume as you state, the vehicle is stolen and unreported -- the registered owner comes back as an old black guy while the officer notices that the driver is a young white guy -- obviously that means something may not be quite right and extra care should be taken.It could be a legitimate situation (neighbor's son borrowing the car to do shopping for the old guy), or it could be something else (stolen vehicle). Also, since the registered owners D/L data, including the photo, is returned, the officer has that information as he approaches the vehicle, and if he sees any discrepancies, he can be more alert to the possibility of trouble. Running the plate won't help by itself, but getting the owner's information based on the plate can be very helpful and provide an extra level of safety for the officer.

tsjeff
 

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Thread Killa
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Still not buying....
Let's say that the car was stolen in a neighborhood populated by white people.
One white guy looks like the next to me...so I see a plate registered to a 30 year old white guy...since I haven't walked up to the car I don't know how old or what race the fellow is in the car...or maybe I did see it was a white guy that look 25-35....and I just got plate information back that says, white guy in his 30's.

So in reality it does nothing except maybe provide a cop with a worse perspective...lets say he pulls over Mr. White...who just killed his girlfriend but no one knows it yet...he gets the information downloaded, and wow it is Mr. White driving his subaru...no big deal...nice night....BLAM... BLAM...BLAM....Mr. White just shot our officer who was relying on you system...system said the guy was OK, system said they guy was the registered owner...thanks for playing.

TSJEFF said:
Perhaps I wasn't clear. The officer runs the license plate and gets data back which includes the registered owners drivers license data including the DMV photo. Assume as you state, the vehicle is stolen and unreported -- the registered owner comes back as an old black guy while the officer notices that the driver is a young white guy -- obviously that means something may not be quite right and extra care should be taken.It could be a legitimate situation (neighbor's son borrowing the car to do shopping for the old guy), or it could be something else (stolen vehicle). Also, since the registered owners D/L data, including the photo, is returned, the officer has that information as he approaches the vehicle, and if he sees any discrepancies, he can be more alert to the possibility of trouble. Running the plate won't help by itself, but getting the owner's information based on the plate can be very helpful and provide an extra level of safety for the officer.

tsjeff
 
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Well, as I am sure you know, nothing is 100% guarenteed. The Thinkstream software is only trying to get as much information as possible to the Officer. More information usually will mean a safer situation since the Officer will be more prepared. If his instinct shows that something doesn't quite feel right, and that is confirmed by data that doesn't appear to match the situation, he can approach the vehicle's driver more cautiously, perhaps even with his hand on his weapon, ready for something unexpected.
Of course, as in your example with Mr. White the girlfriend killer, if one assumes that everything is fine, that could lead to an very bad situation (Blam Blam as you put it). But we do not say that - in the application itself nor in our training. We are not suggesting complancy, but rather all we do is provide data -- lots of data, more than an officer normally could get by calling the dispatcher or running in their vehicle against local data. The idea is that the more information the officer has prior to approaching the vehicle, the more likely the situation as you describe with Mr White will not occur.

Working with law enforcement here in Louisiana over the last year has shown me that the guys really appreciate this product. Countless deputies and officers have told me it makes their job easier. Its not perfect, we are always evolving the software based upon what these officers tell us. And that is one other point that needs to be made - this product was not designed by some software geeks sitting in a room somewhere, it was designed by law enforcement personel. That's what makes this different from all the other crap that is out there that promises everything and delivers nothing.
 
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