Cops' chips are down

Sandusky police looking to new options for cruiser computers SANDUSKY Hoping to have improved computer terminal system
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

Sandusky police looking to new options for cruiser computers

SANDUSKY

Hoping to have improved computer terminal systems working in cruisers, Sandusky police department officials are looking at all the options, including a system used by Erie County Sheriff's deputies.

Mobile data terminals were installed in Sandusky police cruisers back in 2000 but the systems were removed about six months ago after technological issues put a wrench in the works, according to Charlie Sams, assistant chief.

"We're looking at changing the system to be more functional," he said.

Problems arose over transferring data from the cruisers to the station, he said. This included information from the nationwide police person database system LEADS.

But getting such a system up and running again will all hinge on budget constraints and allotments by city commissioners, according to Chief Kim Nuesse.

In the meantime, the force is utilizing all the resources available now. Since the system went down, officers have returned to the station to type their reports up and call dispatchers from the road to do background checks and run license plates.

"Dispatchers are critical to our agency for communication," Nuesse said, adding that the computer terminals are an "enhanced tool" for officers.

A type of terminal used by Erie County Sheriff's Office are being looked at as an option. The terminals were made possible through a 2004 grant of $296,000 by the U.S. Department of Justice, according to Capt. Steven Westcott.

"We purchased a software system that combines all of the workings of the different divisions of the sheriff's office into one records management system," he said.

Deputies can work out of their cruisers and connect to the station wirelessly through cell phone towers powered by Nextel to write and send in reports from cruisers.

"The deputies are now able to spend more time on the road instead of on station doing their reports," Westcott said.

The system also allows dispatch to track the cruisers through a GPS system. That way , whichever deputy who is closest to a call is directed to respond. And the GPS mapping component gives deputies both verbal and visual direction to calls, Westcott said.

"No longer do you have the dispatchers having to run everything," said Capt. Paul Sigsworth. "It saves a lot of time and it's much more efficient."

The system also provides deputies with photos of properties and land parcels throughout Erie County for identification purposes.

"We're going to look at a number of systems and see what works best for us," Sams said.