Since 2001, Congressman Hal Rogers has secured $26 million dollars in federal grant money for The Center for Rural Development to fund their multiphased Law Enforcement Technology (LET) Program. Part of the money is being used for the deployment of wireless technology in police cruisers in the Center's 42 county area in southeastern Kentucky. The goal is to install wireless mobile data terminals (MDT) in police cruisers allowing officers to receive requested information back from local, state and federal sources instantaneously without having to place a call to dispatch. The project takes off later this month when about half of the 42 counties will be up and running with the other half fully operational by the end of June.
What is the wireless advantage?
Today, the issue of effectively communicating via police radio across county lines or on dissimilar radio systems is a challenge for law enforcement in Kentucky. The new MDTs will put officers on the same wireless system, allowing them to electronically message one another across jurisdictions. The MDTs will also help quickly get information on standard traffic stops for license plate identification and allow officers to do paperwork in the field increasing their exposure to citizens. And the future is wide open. Imagine a police officer pulling up to a building where there's a hostage situation in progress. With the help of the MDTs, the officer will eventually be wirelessly delivered detailed building floor plans right in their cruiser, possibly saving lives. Or suppose an officer gets a call that a prisoner has escaped and is on the loose. The prisoner's picture can be instantly sent to the officer to help with identification.
The LET project is a great example of how technology can be used to connect information resources already in place. The MDTs may be new, but the databases were already there and so was the state's existing telecommunications network, the Kentucky Emergency Warning System (KEWS), the same network officers have been using for years to talk to dispatch over their police radios. According to Danny Ball the Center's Program Manager for Public Safety Programs, "If the enthusiastic response of the pilot test participants is any indication, wireless connectivity throughout southern and eastern Kentucky will be a critical communication tool for the area's law enforcement agencies and will ultimately help them keep the citizens in their communities safer."
The project is being carried out with the coordinated effort of The Center for Rural Development, the Governor's Office for Technology, the Kentucky State Police, Kentucky Vehicle Enforcement and local law enforcement in the 42 county region. To date, the multiphase Law Enforcement Technology Program has provided approximately 110 law enforcement agencies and over 1,000 users with millions of dollars in hardware, software and networking applications.
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