Laptops may take a bite out of crime

June 10, 1997


Staff Writer

After a Hagerstown City Police officer makes an arrest, he returns to the police station to write a report.

The same is true when officers respond to traffic accidents or take information from a crime, or do anything that requires a written record.

The process is time-consuming, and Chief Dale J. Jones hopes it soon will be a thing of the past.

The federal Office of Community Oriented Policing Services has awarded Hagerstown a $265,352 grant to help pay for a new reporting system that will enable officers to file reports by using computers in their squad cars.

Jones said the system will work in conjunction with a new computer system the mayor and City Council approved for purchase earlier this year. It replaces an obsolete computer system, he said.


With the new system, Jones said officers will be able to save time and energy by writing their reports on a laptop computer and then send the information electronically to the station. This will keep officers on the streets and out of the office, Jones said.

Jones said officials will devise a system and put the work out to bid. He said he envisions it being ready to use in about a year.

"It will be in place for every officer working the street on his shift," he said.

The grant comes under Making Officer Redeployment Effective, a federal program designed to increase police presence on the street.

"This grant will get cops out from behind a desk and onto the community's sidewalks and streets where they belong," U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., said in a statement.

The city department has taken advantage of federal grants in the past. Jones said a COPS MORE grant paid for six new computers two years ago. He said another federal grant pays salaries of community police officers.

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