New equipment helps police
CHEYENNE, Mar 11, 2013 (Wyoming Tribune-Eagle - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
New equipment at the Cheyenne Police Department is helping officers better respond to crime in the community.
"It's like everything else in life -- as technology changes, so do the people that we deal with," officer Colby White said. "We have to make sure we don't fall behind and give the bad guys the advantage."
Using grants, fifth-penny and sixth-penny sales tax money, and leftover budget funds from last year, the department is getting about $1.4 million worth of new equipment.
One of the upgrades is 12 new police cars. Officers driving the Ford Interceptors have already noticed several improvements n most notably the all-wheel drive.
White said the police car he used to drive had a tendency to get stuck in parking spaces or slide down hills during the winter.
"The handling and driving of this vehicle is a lot better, especially in the snow," he said. "The last snowstorm, when I first had (the car), I actually made it up a couple hills without sliding backward."
Inside each car, including the older models, are new laptop computers and video cameras.
The new cameras are wireless, which means footage automatically downloads to the department's server when officers pull up to the police station.
"You can basically do about two hours of video in about two minutes," department information technology services manager Ted Miazga said.
Two minutes is an improvement from the old cameras, which used to take hours to download. The quality of the video has also improved.
"I kid you not, it's like watching (high-definition) TV," Miazga said.
Police Chief Brian Kozak said this can be helpful for others watching the footage in cases like driving under the influence arrests. Although the officer notices the driver is impaired because they're standing next to them, the old cameras made it hard for others to notice.
"Sometimes it hurts us because the officer says they're impaired n and they are impaired n but someone watches the video and might say, 'Well they're not swaying too bad. They're not stumbling and staggering,'" he said.
In the future, the cars will also have GPS technology that will help officers find unusual addresses. It will also let dispatchers know where the cars are located.
Kozak said this will allow the dispatcher to find the officers closest to the call and send them out.
"It's going to reduce our response time," he said.
Another upgrade is online reporting, which will be launched in several weeks. The system allows people to fill out a police report on the department's website, cheyennepd.org.
Kozak said the online reporting won't be used for violent crimes or crimes in progress, but can be used for lower-priority calls.
"In other words, if someone lost their wallet or their bicycle was taken out of their garage," he said.
Miazga said all of the upgrades are helpful because technology is constantly changing.
"If we don't keep up with technology, only the criminals will have the advantage," he said. "They will be able to infiltrate us and outmaneuver us."
Kozak said the upgrades keep officers safe and may help reduce the number of calls they respond to. They are also helpful because the department has been short-staffed for several years.
"Because we're limited on adding new police officers and personnel because of budget issues, we really look at improving technology so the people we have are more efficient in what they're doing," he said.
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