TORONTO - City Police now have seven additional crime-fighting tools - new computers in each of the fleet's cruisers.
The computers - also equipped with communications equipment and law enforcement databases - will allow officers to quickly identify potential suspects, according to Patrolman Tony Porreca.
"We will have seven mobile data computers in each cruiser," said Porreca, adding the computers were purchased with grant money from the Ohio Department of Homeland Security. "That gives us the capabilities to run license plate numbers, check on drivers' licenses and alert us as to stolen vehicles or wanted persons. They're basically the same computers we have in the office, but now they are in the vehicles."
Porreca said police can now instantly pull up files from the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles, as well as an actual image of the driver.
"That's great, because now we can identify the person as being who they say they are," Porreca continued, adding police now have the ability to communicate car-to-car without having to communicate over police scanning radio. "The calls bypass scanners, so suspects can't hear what police are doing."
Porreca said some suspects have phone smart phone applications that can listen to police frequencies. By bypassing the scanner, police won't tip off a suspect they are being sought, he added.
"I believe that's a big safety aspect for the officers," Porreca said. "We also can now talk to any (law enforcement) vehicle in (Jefferson County). That helps us relay information."
The system will allow police to better coordinate their actions while pursuing a suspect or during stakeouts, Porreca said.
"Jefferson County 911 is training the officers on use of the equipment," said Porreca. "I became a terrorism liaison officer for Region 8 (of Homeland Security), which consists of Jefferson and nine surrounding counties. Through that program, we were able to get the funds for the equipment. There are no out-of-pocket expenses for Toronto taxpayers. (The computers) were completely funded through the grant."
Porreca said the system already is paying off on locating and identifying lawbreakers.
"In the last seven days we've arrested seven people for driving with a suspended license," he said. "So far the system has been a great asset. My overall impression is this is a great tool for law enforcement. It's fantastic."