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Mobile Data Computing Featured Nationally

Hoover Police Department’s use of mobile data computing featured nationally – 04/01/2007

The March/April 2007 edition of Public Safety IT Vol. 2-No.2 featured The Hoover Police Department’s use of the Datalux Tracer Mobile Computing System in its fleet of Chevrolet Police Tahoe SUVs.

According to Officer Ken McGinnis, of the Hoover Department’s Police Information Technology Unit, this new computer system has made the transfer of information between the police department’s 911 call center and officers in the field a seamless process.

Prior to the purchase of the mobile data computing system, officers relied on radio communication from police dispatch in order to receive information associated with police “calls for service.” When depending on radio communications alone, an officer is typically unable to write down basic call details such as the complainant’s address, the victim / witness information, and the suspect description while driving to the scene. Thus, an officer usually finds it necessary to ask the 911 radio dispatcher to recap call related facts over the radio reducing the efficiency of 911 center personnel in the handling of police incidents.

With the Datalux Tracer Mobile Computing System linked directly into the 911 CAD computer, the responding officer is able to view details associated with all active police “calls for service.” Incident details that are readily available to the officer on the mobile computer include: police incident type; responding officers for active calls (including back-up officers responding to his call); call times associated with police incidents; address and cross street information; and complainant and suspect details without having to discuss such facts over the police radio.

In addition to providing access to active CAD call information, police officers are also able to use the mobile data computers to retrieve the following: vehicle registrations, perform searches for outstanding arrest warrants, download mug shots of previously convicted individuals, link to e-mail, and (in the next few months) complete and file all departmental reports electronically from the field.

As noted by Officer McGinnis, the mobile data computers have given the department’s police officers a “rolling office” with all of the capabilities needed to do their jobs while sitting in the police vehicle as opposed to being hidden away from view at police headquarters.

The Datalux Tracer Mobile Computing System include features such as: an easy to view screen, touch screen capability, screen dimmer for night use, and the mobile data computer can be easily removed for repair, etc.

In the article for Public Safety IT, Officer McGinnis discusses an incident whereby use of the mobile data computer by one of Hoover’s officers led to the quick arrest of a murder suspect. As related by Officer McGinnis, a Hoover officer made a “routine” traffic stop of an individual and entered the driver’s information into his mobile computer. The next day, the officer received a notification sent to his mobile data computer concerning an arrest warrant for murder that had been issued for this same subject. The software being used on the mobile data computer linked the suspect information once the arrest warrant was entered into the state data base. The Hoover officer, with current address information, was able to quickly locate and arrest the suspect.

As stated by Officer McGinnis, “We chose a system that is flexible for future advances in technology or for future changes in how our officers work in the field.” The arrest discussed above indicates that use of the Datalux Tracer Mobile Computing System is providing the department’s officers with the power of computer technology while simultaneously making the City of Hoover a safer place to live and visit.


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