Clarks Summit hopes to equip police fleet with laptops – Scranton Times-Tribune
Clarks Summit’s police fleet could soon get a digital makeover.
Officer in Charge Chris Yarns applied for a grant that would cover the cost of three Panasonic Toughbooks – a durable, rugged-looking laptop that is mounted on the center console.
Using the laptops, officers can access databases such as the Pennsylvania Justice Network and run background checks, view mug shots, check vehicle registrations and even write a police report from their vehicle. Within seconds, police will know if a car has been reported stolen or if suspects have a warrant out for their arrest.
Information gleaned from the online databases reduces the number of calls officers make to the 911 center, leaving the airwaves open for emergencies, Officer Yarns said.
“It lets officers stay out and patrol more, and that’s the way departments are headed,” he said.
To access the databases, officers insert a flash drive into the laptop and then enter a personal identification number, Officer Yarns said.
He detailed several scenarios in which the technology would benefit officers. For example, he said, if officers respond to a domestic violence call, they can find out how many times police have been dispatched to the home and whether the property owner has a firearm.
“It allows officers to get really thorough information on site rather than going back to the Police Department,” Mayor Patty Lawler said. “As a small borough, it’s important for us to look for grant money, especially when it benefits our Police Department.”
If Clarks Summit equips its police cars with laptops, the borough will join the scores of municipalities that have added the technology in recent years.
South Abington Twp. Police Chief Robert Gerrity said the township’s Police Department purchased several laptops in the fall. Since then, he said, police officers have benefited from the advanced capabilities, such as typing in a missing person’s name to view a photo.
“It allows for a quicker turnaround in getting information,” he said. “Rather than tying up the airwaves, we can run our own license checks.”
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