As we approach almost 4 years of highly successful operations since our official launch, the Harbor County Sheriff's Office has received additional funding for it's 2015 - 2016 budget.When the Sheriff's Office was launched in 2012 to enhance the law enforcement presence in Liberty City and aid the failing Liberty City Police Department in it's mission to clean up the streets, the Sheriff's Office was assembled with a respectable budget in an attempt to help bring peace to Liberty City. But with no reputation to it's name, the initial funding for the agency was such that majority of the equipment used by the Sheriff's Office was purchased in used condition from other agencies and surplus shops throughout the country. That is about to change, as the Sheriff's Office upgrades all of it's equipment this year thanks to some new Federal grant allocations and internal fundraising initiatives.
Beginning in June 2014, new patrol cars began hitting the streets and the older cars began being cycled through the County's fleet service center in Algonquin for upgrade or replacement with the new equipment. As we enter the new year of 2016, Harbor County's fleet will continue to be modernized to meet the needs of today's law enforcement. The service center has designed a custom center console and technology package for the Sheriff's Office featuring some of the most cutting edge technology available today. Each patrol car will utilize the latest digital communications equipment from Motorola allowing Deputies to communicate on the county's digitally encrypted network. Vehicle siren and lighting controls have been streamlined and will use the CenCom Saphire control system from Whelen Engineering, one of the leading manufactures of public safety equipment.
All patrol cars will also be equipped with a Panasonic Toughbook, one of the most legendary computers in the history of rugged mobile computing. The Toughbook is renowned in the public safety industry around the world for its durability and is heat resistant, cold resistant, drop resistant, water resistant, and capable of withstanding the day to day abuse of law enforcement. Harbor County's new Toughbooks will also utilize touch screen features and back-lit full keyboards to make data entry faster and easier for Deputies. The computer docking station in each patrol car also features an identification card reader that will allow Deputies to simply swipe any driver's license or government issued identification that is equipped with a magnetic swipe strip, and will quickly and correctly enter the data into the computer. Each car will also be equipped with the latest mobile broadband technology allowing Deputies high speed internet access, which will enable Deputies to have direct connections to the County's records system, the Harbor County Information Center. In addition to HCIC access, Deputies will also have access to the National Crime Information Center, allowing Deputies to run checks for warrants, stolen vehicles, and criminal records at the local and national levels all from their patrol cars.
The computers are also removable from their docking stations if needed, but with direct connections to the local and national report databases, Deputies should be able to complete reports in their car at the scene of each call. The ability to quickly enter data directly into the system on the scene of a call helps to ensure that information is entered correctly, and will also enable Deputies to spend less time doing paperwork and more time responding to other calls, increasing the service received by citizens throughout the county.
One of the biggest improvements in technology comes in the form of an in car printing system, designed by Brother International. Using the Brother PocketJet thermal printing system, each patrol car will have the ability to print directly from the in car computers. "This is going to be a big increase in the quality of the service that we provide to the public," explains Sergeant Dan Shaw, "With our current system, when a citizen needs information about a service call such as the Deputy's name or case number, we use a hand written business card. That's a small piece of paper and handwriting can be hard to read and fades over time. With the new in car printers, our Deputies can quickly enter all the relevant information for their reports in real time on the scene of every call, and can then print a special summary page with their name, case number, and any relevant information."
Sergeant Shaw also explained that the new system will allow Deputies to print citations, notices to appear in court, warrants, and other legal documents that historically have been hand written on carbon copy paper. "With electronic records we don't need old fashioned carbon copies and paper any more. So our Deputies will be able to simply swipe in a drivers license or ID card to add a person's information, enter any charges or narrative statements about an event, and then print the appropriate citations, reports, and other documents. It's going to allow our Deputies to not only do their job faster and more safely, but do a better job for the public too."
The printer is not only connected to the in car computer system, but it is wireless capable via Bluetooth as well. This will enable Deputies to connect other devices to the printer such as their mobile phones. "The Bluetooth printing capability is something that I'm very excited about," said Lieutenant John O'Neill, leader of the Sheriff's Office Traffic Enforcement unit. "When our Deputies respond to something like a vehicle accident, and can use their mobile phones to take photographs of the accident and then print those in our cars and provide the photos from the scene to the drivers of the cars along with the case summary and report number, it's going to be a significant help not only in court, but also in helping people complete claims with their insurance companies and get their lives back on track."
Look for the new technology to begin hitting the streets in January. The entire Sheriff's Office fleet is expected to be upgraded within the next few months.