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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Police Department upgrades fleet technology

  • In the past, when a Leavenworth police officer wanted to find out if someone had an arrest warrant or suspended license, the officer had to rely on a radio dispatcher to look up the information.
    Today, the officer has the information at his or her fingertips.
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  • In the past, when a Leavenworth police officer wanted to find out if someone had an arrest warrant or suspended license, the officer had to rely on a radio dispatcher to look up the information.
    Today, the officer has the information at his or her fingertips.
    Mobile data terminals have been installed in the Leavenworth Police Department's patrol and traffic vehicles. The MDT computer system went live earlier this month.
    Maj. Dan Nicodemus, deputy police chief, said an MDT is "a computer that provides the officers access to a number of databases and other information that help them with their jobs."
    He said the MDTs also provide the Police Department with the ability to dispatch over the computer instead of the radio system.
    Officers who are driving will be able to hear computer messages sent to them from dispatchers. That's because the MDTs can read messages aloud, or "talk" to the officers, Nicodemus said.
    He said MDTs reduce radio traffic. Officers who need to get on the radio for important communication won't have to wait on someone who's handling routine business.
    The Police Department spent $231,000 to purchase 24 MDT units.
    "What they had before was simply a laptop," Nicodemus said of police vehicles.
    He said the laptops had no Internet access. Officers could use the old computers to write reports, but they had to print the reports when they returned to the police station.
    He said officers eventually will be able to electronically send their reports with the MDTs.
    In addition to the MDTs, the Police Department purchased new in-car camera systems for the vehicles.
    Nicodemus said the new cameras are integrated into the MDT system.
    "It's a better quality video," Nicodemus said.
    The Police Department had the previous in-car camera system for more than seven years, which Nicodemus said is considered old for software and camera technology.
    The new in-car camera system was implemented in October. The Police Department went live with the MDT system March 5 for dispatching and accessing the National Crime Information Center database.
    The last phase that will be implemented is the use of the MDT system for filing reports.
    The Police Department has to report certain types of crimes to the FBI and Kansas Bureau of Investigation.
    Nicodemus said the MDT system will allow reports to be sent electronically to the agencies. In the past, they've been sent by mail.
    "It's a big change," Nicodemus said.
    When he first started as a police officer, everything was handwritten, he said.
    In addition to the NCIC database, MDTs also give officers access to the Police Department's records management system, which can provide information about the department's history with individuals and locations.
    Page 2 of 2 - Officers also can access 11 other databases from law enforcement agencies in the Kansas City metropolitan area.
    Nicodemus said Internet access also allows officers to look up various information, such as who owns a particular property.
    "They're better in a lot of ways," officer Cole Brummer said of the MDTs.
    He said officers can use the computers to view more details about what they may be getting into.
    Nicodemus said officers can access photographs of people through the MDTs, something that is impossible when obtaining information over the radio.
    "Now they've got it right there in their cars," he said.
    Nicodemus said the MDTs were purchased with grant money and funds from drug seizure forfeitures. He said the city dedicated money from its Capital Improvement Program to help fund the in-car camera portion.
    Brummer said there have been a few minor hiccups with the MDTs, but nothing that hasn't been fixed.
    "Obviously, we're still adapting," he said.
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