No More Typing And Driving for FWPD

By Corinne Rose

August 29, 2012 Updated Aug 30, 2012 at 10:55 AM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) -- No doubt you've seen police officers driving down the street, typing on their in-car computer. But in Fort Wayne, that's about to change.

While it hasn't happened here, there have been horrific crashes across the country involving officers who've been distracted while driving.

So Police Chief Rusty York is leading the charge to be the first department in the country to use technology developed here in Fort Wayne to keep everyone a bit safer on the roads.

"I've always said we kind of set up our officers because we have so much techonology, especially in Fort Wayne, Indiana, crammed into these squad cars that are mobile offices," York says.

York saw a need to eliminate driver distraction among his officers... specifically, those computers in their squad cars.

"We wanted to develop a system that wouldn't inhibit officers from utilizing their equipment any more than possible. But just like we tell everybody, you shouldn't text and drive. There's a reason for that. And this is a way that we can better protect our officers," York says.

So a Fort Wayne company designed a system that uses the diagnostic port in the squad car to recognize when it goes over 15 miles per hour.

That's when the system kicks in and kills the keyboard and touch screen for the computer, so officers can't enter data while they're moving.

"It does allow the screen to be refreshed, so they can glance and see the information that's updated, or they can see their route on our GPS on their computer. But they just won't be able to enter data such as warrant checks, registration checks. If they're following a car that they might suspect could be involved in something, their first, what they want to do probably is enter that data in, but it's just not worth the risk," York says.

And just in case someone tries to beat the system, if an officer unplugs it, the computer shuts down and only reboots once it's plugged back in.

York thinks this safety equipment could be the first of its kind in the country... and...

"We hope that other police departments take advantage of this technology because it's created right here in Fort Wayne," he says.

The research and development was done here, and the units will be manufactured in Kokomo. They will cost just under $100,000 and are supposed to be delivered to the Fort Wayne Police Department by the end of September.




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