Computers in patrol cars shave moments off response time

by Sheila Gardner,

The Douglas County Sheriff's Office has installed computers in 35 patrol cars to make a fast response time even quicker.

Bolstered by a $200,000 donation from the Douglas County Sheriff's Advisory Council, the on-board computers speed up communications between officers and make important information at deputies' fingertips.

“I have to give credit for this to the Douglas County Sheriff's Advisory Council and to (Undersheriff) Paul Howell,” said Sheriff Ron Pierini. “Without either one of them, this wouldn't have happened.”

Howell said installation of the computer-aided dispatch system propelled technology in the department from “mid-1970s to what's at the forefront.”

“When you think about two or three minutes, consider it if your child can't breathe, or someone is holding a gun to your head. What does the time mean to you then?” Howell said. “There's nothing out there that is more advanced.”

Pierini said the sheriff's department has been talking about upgrading the communications system for 10 years.

With a link to state information, officers will be able to pull up criminal histories, and drivers license records.

The department used Homeland Security Funds, drug seizure money and the sheriff's advisory council donation for the patrol car computers.

The system makes it possible for sheriff's dispatchers to relay information that formerly was broadcast on the emergency scanner system, available to anyone within range.

“That availability can have a real negative aspect to it,” Howell said. “People out committing crimes or otherwise up to no good could track what we were doing. This system makes it more efficient to get to the scene without people knowing.”

The software includes extensive mapping capabilities.