High-tech delays for GPD cars

A Gilroy Police Department in-unit computer system.

Gilroy
– It will be another five months before every Gilroy police car
is equipped with state-of-the-art computers and video cameras.
The city last March awarded a contract for the cutting-edge
equipment, which gives officers on patrol access to information
previously only available through 911 dispatchers.
By Lori Stuenkel

Gilroy – It will be another five months before every Gilroy police car is equipped with state-of-the-art computers and video cameras.

The city last March awarded a contract for the cutting-edge equipment, which gives officers on patrol access to information previously only available through 911 dispatchers. The improvement to the Gilroy Police Department’s communications system is costing $684,559, including the computers, cameras and some software, and will be purchased from Secure Eye Systems of Seattle.

Police officials expected to have more than 30 squad cars that make up the GPD fleet equipped by last December.

“Our supplier was unable to do that so we gave them an extension, until July of this year,” said Capt. Jack Robinson.

The delay is attributed to the fact that the system is being manufactured specifically for the GPD, and must integrate the in-car computers with the system back at the station, Robinson said.

“You have not only the computer, but then you have the cell phone system that it runs off of, so it’s making sure those can work together,” he said.

The city first tried to purchase the computers, without the video cameras, back in January, 2002, but the plan was waylaid with the advance of new communication technologies, Capt. Scot Smithee said. A $253,209-purchase order was awarded to an Alameda company, but before it could be completed, the provider backed out.

The GPD convened a team to research two emerging, but more popular, communications technologies and hired a consultant to choose one, known as Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA). Used by Sprint and Verizon, CDMA allows each user access to the full spectrum of frequency channels, and encodes communication. The system allows a base station to communicate with multiple mobile stations, and vice versa.

Secure Eye Systems was already the department’s choice for supplying the video cameras, and offered to provide the whole package, Smithee said.

City Council awarded the contract last March 1.

Several of the computers mounted in squad cars already are in use, during a testing phase before the complete roll-out. The rest of the cars are ready to go, their radios moved from the top to the bottom of the instrument panel to make room for the color touch-screens, which can be viewed in any light.

Among the system’s uses, officers will be able to look up driver’s licenses and photographs and check vehicle registration – basically anything that can currently be done through the GPD’s internal computer system. Officers in the field will not be able to display criminal histories.

Officers will be able to fill out and submit reports directly from the car at the time of the incident, instead of waiting to write reports when they return to the station.

GPD cars also will be outfitted with digital video and audio recorders. Even if an officer is away from the car, the audio device stores recordings that will automatically sync up to the video once he or she returns to the vehicle. Back at the station, the digital video and audio information is transferred.

“It automatically downloads the information from the patrol car system into a computer system here in the office that will maintain files of whatever video that was taken in the time from when the officer leaves, until the officer comes back,” Robinson said.

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