Gulfport Police Going High Tech

The City of Gulfport's information technology department is finishing the task of installing laptop computers in police cars.

With computers up front and transmitter-receivers in the trunk, Gulfport officers are given instant access.

"There's the information," said Chief Alan Weatherford, as he demonstrated the new computers.

He says the touch screen technology offers tremendous benefit to police on the street. No longer must they rely on the two-way radio, which could be tied up with a priority call.

"The officer can run a drivers license check from the vehicle. He can run a tag information from the vehicle. Gives me all the information to that particular call. And then actually I can see the narrative and see the cross street. So, the officer does not have to ask for the cross street as well," says Chief Weatherford.

The CAD or computer assisted dispatch is only the beginning of the laptop capabilities.

"He was driving while intoxicated, we went to arrest him and he assaulted me," said an instructor from Texas, as he taught a classroom filled with police officers.

Gulfport officers are in training, learning how to write and transmit police reports on their new laptops. By mid-April the department should achieve its goal of paperless reports.

Transmitters and receivers attached to water towers throughout the city make the wireless communication possible. And the police department is just the beginning. Laptop computers and specialty software will soon be used by Gulfport public works and other city departments.

Paul Schroeder is the  Information Systems Director for the City of Gulfport.

"The police car becomes the virtual office. And we want to extend that to really all departments. Where we can keep people in the field. And it ends up being a force multiplier by keeping those people in the field, more work gets done," explained Schroeder.

Chief Weatherford says the two million dollar system has been about two years in the planning. Drug forfeiture money is paying for the computer system.