Because of their limited tax bases, rural law enforcement agencies have historically been unable to afford computer hardware, software and their related support functions. The purpose of this project is to enhance the crime fighting capabilities of law enforcement agencies by providing them with mobile access to law enforcement software and database applications.
Agencies with the fewest resources, both financial and staffing, naturally have the greatest needs. It is not uncommon for law enforcement agencies to have only one or two officers on duty. When staffing is so limited, time and efficiency become increasingly valuable. Officers at many agencies must leave an area that is being patrolled or in which a crime is being investigated in order to return to the office to enter write reports, or to research information via the Internet. Doing so takes officers off of the streets where they are needed most. Many of the tasks performed in the office, such as querying local, state and national databases, agencies' records management systems, state driver’s license, motor vehicle records and warrant databases are largely administrative. These are functions that could be undertaken from the vehicle.
Allowing officers to access these tools from their vehicles allows them to remain in the field for a greater percentage of their time. It increases the availability of services, thereby increasing officer efficiency. It allows them to remain visible and to conduct some phases of crime scene and accident investigations from the scene. In addition to accessing their RMS they would be able to retrieve information from other law enforcement databases to which several agencies have access. Pawn ticket, crash reporting, state driver’s license, motor vehicle, warrant and DWI/DUI databases are examples.
During the last quarter of 2010, Tarleton acquired funding that allows us to provide participating agencies with in-car laptop computers, mounting hardware, antennas, installation, air cards, and for a limited period of time, wireless data service fees. During December, 2011 and January, 2012, our initiative provided that equipment for 227 vehicles at 27 law enforcement agencies. We equipped 110 additional vehicles at 23 agencies during November, 2012. 126 laptops were installed in 26 agencies' vehicles during 2013. The installations of 85 more laptop computers performed in April, 2014, brings the total number of laptop computer installations to 549 at 86 law enforcement agencies.