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In-squad laptops give Delavan officers an upgrade

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Darryl Enriquez
September 29, 2010
— Police agencies here and in Lake Geneva are now operating with laptop computers in patrol squads, linking officers instantly to internal and statewide law enforcement record systems.

Delavan Police Chief Tim O’Neill and Lake Geneva Police Chief Michael Rasmussen said the laptops keep officers on the road longer because they can type and file reports on laptops from their cars, instead of returning to stations to do paperwork.


The $38,303 federal grant from the U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance also provided money to Whitewater police to upgrade the software of its mobile data computer system. Whitewater squads have had laptops for five years, Police Chief Jim Coan said.


Five of Rasmussen’s agency’s seven patrol cars in Lake Geneva went on line with laptops Sept. 15.


“We’ve gone from pencil and paper—writing everything out on pieces of paper—to computers that are linked to a computer aided dispatch system,” Rasmussen said.


Delavan’s four patrol cars went on line with laptops on Friday, O’Neill said.


Delavan police now can instantly access criminal files on the laptops. In the past, officers got background information from dispatchers via radio transmissions, a much slower method, O’Neill said.


The laptops easily merged with Delavan’s existing record keeping system, O’Neill said.


In Lake Geneva, the city spent $200,000 to modernize its police dispatch and record keeping. Computer aided dispatch tracks patrol cars on a screen, allowing dispatchers to know the locations of squads, Rasmussen said.


Police checked for transmission weak points and found none, O’Neill said. Officers went to several locations in Delavan and sites outside of the city where his force might respond to requests from other police agencies for mutual aid.


“We didn’t find any dead spots,” O’Neil said.


Both men praised Whitewater Police Chief Jim Coan for writing the grant application in March 2009.


The grant was meant to assist the three largest police departments in Walworth County, Coan said.


O’Neill lamented that his department was late in getting laptops, a tool that larger law enforcement agencies have had for some time.


“I’m really proud of the equipment and really proud of my guys for not crashing the computers during the training period,” O’Neill said.



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