LANCASTER – Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department vehicles equipped with sophisticated in-car computer systems are now rolling out on the streets of the Antelope Valley.
The new mobile data computer systems (MDCS) allow deputies to access the Internet, Sheriff’s Data Network, fingerprint databases and various other criminal databases while in the field. The systems are also equipped with advanced GPS tracking and mapping, allowing deputies and dispatchers to track real-time movements of all units within a certain radius.
“The technology is at our fingertips, so it allows us to do a much more efficient job,” said Lancaster Station Deputy Michael Rust.
Rust says the state-of-the-art system is already in use in a few patrol units at the Lancaster Station, and they are in the process of training all deputies on the new system. They expect to have the entire system up and running on every unit by February 2012, Rust said.
Rust demonstrated the functions of the new system at the Lancaster Station Thursday and explained how the new technology will lead to a much more efficient Sheriff’s Department.
“If an emergency [call] comes in, the dispatcher will know immediately, ‘I have X number of cars within the area,’ so it helps her to dispatch those cars that are closest,” said Rust. “If I’m dispatched to that emergency call, I can see all the units who are rolling on that same call, and I can see where they are, relative to me, so we can avoid those crashes in the middle of the intersection.”
Rust says the new system also allows deputies to pull up fingerprints data, DMV photos, FBI records, warrants and background checks, on the spot, in a single roadside stop.
“If I get a drivers’ license that does not look real to me or I’m not sure who you are, I can just put your thumb on there and it will show your actual DMV photo,” Rust said. “If we think somebody is a suspected gang member, we can type a name into the Cal Gangs system and it pops up a picture.”
Other accessible information such as bail schedules, will allow deputies to produce a report, directly from the scene.
“Now I can have all the paperwork done prior to even getting to the station,” says Rust. “It gets us in and out quicker and allows us to spend a lot more time in the field.”
The multimillion dollar technology upgrade comes just in time for the Sheriff’s Department. Their old system, the 1987 Mobile Digital Terminal, was so antiquated the parts weren’t even being sold in the United States any more.
“No other police agency in the world used our old computer,” Rust said. “We had basically scoured the world looking for parts for them so our techs could keep them running, and we just exhausted that.”
The Sheriff’s Department’s $19.9 million investment with Raytheon to integrate the software and technology from several different companies, including Penske, Geo-Spacial Technologies and Panasonic, set the total project cost at $33 million.
“Raytheon worked closely with our sheriff’s deputies, engineers and technicians to integrate the latest public safety technologies and capabilities into our vehicles,” said Sheriff Lee Baca, in a press release. “This new mobile data computer system will greatly increase the efficiency of deputies in the field, providing them more knowledge at their fingertips, and enabling them to do more for the public now and in the years ahead.”
The new technology is being installed in the Department’s 2,400 field units, including patrol cars, motorcycles, prisoner transport vehicles and command post SUVs.
At the Palmdale Sheriff’s Station, the mobile data computer systems are currently being installed, but no vehicles are currently in use with the new technology, according to Palmdale Station spokesman Deputy Robbie Royster.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has created a video, which demonstrates the full functionality of the new system. View it here.