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Front Page » January 9, 2003 » Local News » Helper police department utilizing wireless computer system
Published 4,273 days ago

Helper police department utilizing wireless computer system


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By KAREN BASSO
Staff writer

After two years of working toward setting up a wireless computer system the Helper City Police Department could utilize in patrol cars, the project is finally complete and the reaction is positive.

Approximately 60 days ago, the police department began using the new equipment.

Since then, the city's officers have adapted to the technology and regard the system as one of the best tools they currently have available to them.

The wireless system allows Helper officers to remain in patrol cars for most of their shifts.

The system not only allows the police to complete reports, butenables the officers to perform vehicle and suspect checks without paging the local dispatch center.

The result reduces radio traffic and allows the police officers to complete routine traffic stops more quickly.

The system came about after a grant for $19,000 was received by the city. Proper equipment was installed and the wireless tower overlooking the city was then ready to be used.

As soon as the computers were fired up, it was apparent to the police that the system which the department had wanted was well worth the wait.

"Since we started using the system, we have had quite a bit of success. There have been a few arrests made which were stemmed from information which was found on the new computers," explained Police Chief George Zamantakis.

"Since we don't have to wait to look up reports and previous information in the office, we now have the chance to respond quicker to crimes," added the Helper police chief.

Police response time has been cut by more than half by the new wireless system.

Several weeks ago, a theft complaint was reported to the police department. When officers arrived at the scene, the witness was able to provide a suspect description.

From this description, the officers were able to pull up a photograph which was taken prior to the theft of a possible suspect. At that point, the complainant was able to positively identify the suspect which lead to an arrest.

The identification of the suspect was complete within approximately 30 minutes of the incident and would not have been possible without the new technology.

After the police officers located the suspect, the stolen property was recovered. The Helper law enforcement officers were also able to arrest several suspects on alleged drug charges, which all stemmed from the original theft complaint.

"Before these computers were available, the officers would have had to come back to the station and do a lot of footwork in order to locate a suspect. Because we can now search for information such as a photograph, the complainant was able to make a positive ID of the suspect which lead to an arrest. Before, we would be lucky to locate the suspect in such a quickly manner, let alone recover the stolen merchandise," explained Zamantakis.

To demonstrate how efficient the new computer system is, the Helper police chief discussed an incident which occurred last week.

"Officer Trent Anderson had just started his shift when he reviewed the state's log of attempt to locate suspects. At this point, Anderson read the information and found that a vehicle had been stolen from Provo approximately an hour earlier. After reading the vehicle information, Anderson pulled onto the highway and located the vehicle which was passing through. He then pulled the suspect over after a brief chase and made the arrest," Zamantakis explained.

Although the computer system has only been in use for approximately three months at the Helper police department, the benefits have been numerous.

According to John Milano of Networks International, the company who installed the computer network for the Helper City Police Department, the system is currently the best in the state.

"We have set up the department with the best equipment available for the funds and it has proved to be a great success. The system is connecting at three megabytes per minute and has a 99 percent range in Helper and the surrounding area," indicated the company representative.

"This is the best statistics of any system in the state and is quite similar to the one which is currently in use in Price. The police department down there has about an 85 percent range compared to the Helper system. Regardless, this is the fastest in the state," explained Milano.

Police departments at locations across the Wasatch Front are currently using a CDPD system. The system is a connection established off of a digital tower which also runs cellular phones across the Salt Lake Valley.

Because so many different devices are working off of the same tower, the police systems suffer.

"We have found that the police up state are connecting digitally at the same speed, if not slower than a dial up connection. This frustrates the officers and often times is not used," pointed out the company representative.

"Helper, on the other hand, is connecting at the fastest speed we can imagine and is using its own wireless tower. Not only is the system fast, but it also is secure and hackers can't break into the departments files," Milano explained.

The computer system has equipped Helper with endless possibilities. Equipping all public works in the city with the wireless system has been discussed This would allow the departments to utilize information on the job site.

Milano said the fire department may also be able to use the system to its advantage. It is possible for the crews to pull up maps andfloor plans of local buildings in case of a fire. This would allow crews to prepare to fight a fire before arriving at the scene.

"This is state-of-the-art technology which the police department is working with. It can easily expand to various other city agencies and should fit the needs of the city for many years to come," stated Milano.

As the police department becomes more efficient with the new computer technology, Zamantakis admits that it was an addition which is priceless to his department.

"Not only does this allow us to work from the field a lot more, but it also allows us to serve the community more efficiently," concluded the police chief.


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