Law enforcement agencies thrive on information—they need it to respond to emergencies, anticipate what they’ll encounter when they arrive on-scene, and to help predict incident trends and patterns. In the pre-computer days, information was gathered by officers in the field, transmitted to others via paper notes, reports and other hand-written notations, and then filed in metal cabinets. The advent of the electronic age made it possible to revolutionize routine data collection, transmission and distribution at America’s law enforcement agencies. Along with the computerization that began in the 1980s, a few large agencies began installing specialized mobile data terminals (MDTs) in their patrol vehicles and now most agencies use MDTs.
One of the most common uses of MDTs is to allow officers in the field to instantly access information in their agency’s database. Sometimes they’re able to access the databases of other agencies, as well. For example, when an officer pulls over a speeder, he or she can quickly view all available records on the subject from the department’s records database to find out if there are any warrants, previous arrests or stops, verify identification and more. This has made it possible for officers to greatly multiply the amount of data checks and data disseminations they can perform in any one shift.
Smaller Vehicles Mean Cramped Conditions
But, with the demise of the Crown Victoria, and because law enforcement agencies are looking for ways to reduce costs, those agencies are increasingly turning to more fuel-efficient cars. The new cruisers include the Ford Interceptor Sedan, Chevy Caprice PPV and the Dodge Charger Pursuit. The problem is that the fuel-efficient cars are much smaller than the venerable old Crown Victoria cruisers. And, because police cars have become virtual police offices, packed with equipment and technology, the already small interior can get pretty tight. Most officers roll with at least a computer, in-car video, a rifle and/or shotgun, radar equipment and often a printer. Add a partner in the passenger seat and the problem doubles.
The cramped conditions inside the downsized police cruisers have created ergonomic challenges for mobile data terminal installation and use. For example, the equipment needs to be deployed in a location that does not interfere with the airbags, all the while being ergonomically efficient for the officer and/or passenger to access and use. Many departments are choosing to use laptops and tablets that can be removed, but these systems actually take up more space and have other drawbacks (such as the added security needed for devices that leave vehicles).
A Permanent Ergonomic MDT Solution
Many police departments have solved this problem by installing the Datalux Tracer, the most compact integrated 12.1 inch all-in-one unit for public safety on the market today. This rugged computer system was designed from inception to meet the needs of public safety professionals and Datalux has been improving the design since the product was introduced in 2000. Permanently installed in the cruiser, the Datalux Tracer features an Intel Core™ i5 or Core i7 mobile processor and a 12.1 inch, XGA touchscreen that is viewable both in direct sunlight and easily dimmable for nighttime use. The compact size of the Tracer and custom mounting solutions allow the unit to be installed with minimal protrusion into the driver or passenger spaces. The Tracer is also sold with an innovative keyboard that be unclipped from the mount and inserted into the steering wheel to provide a stable and ergonomic platform for report writing. Complete solutions are available for all makes and models of police, fire, and EMS vehicles.
As more and more police departments around the nation retire the last of their Crown Victoria cruisers and purchase the new, smaller patrol vehicles, the need to create an ergonomic interior for the officers to effectively and efficiently do their jobs is paramount. A compact and permanent MDT that is installed for ergonomic ease of use is the best solution.