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UAPD gets money for patrol car computer system

By Liz Dailey
Arizona Daily Wildcat
September 17, 1998
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The University of Arizona Police Department is going online to help take a byte out of crime.

Starting Jan. 1, computers will be installed in the dashboards of university police patrol cars. UAPD hopes the $101,700 system will improve communication and save time.

The officers now use a radio communication system, which some UAPD officials say causes a number of problems.

"We have nothing but radio," said UA police Sgt. Vince Roberts. "The FCC (Federal Communications Commission) can't guarantee we have priority service."

In other words, police don't have precedence over others to use the airwaves.

The FCC gives police-specific frequencies to use, but when other transmissions interfere, police have to fend for themselves, he said.

Roberts said police will soon have a way to get the lowdown on a suspect a lot faster.

"We can attach a video camera to them and get live video, mugshots, fingerprints and on-the-spot scanning of driver's licenses," he said.

How new UAPD computers will save time:

On average, nine officers produce 45 police reports in a day. It takes about one hour to write a report, and an officer will write about five reports per shift. Police did an experiment where they gave three officers laptop computers. It was discovered that with the laptops, 2.5 hours will be saved per shift, 22.5 hours per day, 1,824 hours per year. It's the same as putting about 4.5 extra police officers out on the street each year.

The computers will increase the amount of time officers spend on patrol because they will be able to file reports on the go.

"Police will be able to spend more time on the street and won't have to come back to the station as much," said UA police Sgt. Gene Taitano. "Everything can be done in their car." Taitano said more police on the street means more effective law enforcement.

Police spend an average of one hour writing each report and turn out about five reports in a 10-hour shift.

UAPD officers must go to their headquarters to write a report, which means the whole process takes more than an hour. With the new computers, report writing will be cut in half because travel time will not be needed, Roberts said.

Roberts said with all the man-hours UAPD will save, it will be like having an extra 4.5 cops per year in the department.

"I think it's great," said UA police officer Don Buotte. "It's a great idea and I wish it had happened sooner. It will help cut down the crime rate."

Liz Dailey can be reached via e-mail at Liz.Dailey@wildcat.arizona.edu.