Alexandria, Va., police leverage advanced wireless

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Sgt. Jim Craige of the Alexandria, Va., Police Department knows that the speed of information transfer beats the speed of his cruiser any day, and it's just as valuable as a law enforcement tool.

Craige, whose duties include managing handheld devices and notebook computers assigned to police cars and officers, spoke at the FOSE 2008 conference and exhibition in Washington today on the advanced capabilities that wireless networking is giving police officers. FOSE is hosted by 1105 Government Information Group, which owns Government Computer News.

Having notebook PCs in police cruisers allows officers to check detainees' license plates and wanted status, and enables them to search local, state and federal databases for criminal history, outstanding warrants or other pertinent information. Accessing the department's Police Reporting and Investigative Search Modules system gives officers critical information at their fingertips.

From headquarters and from their cruisers, officers can check on a police unit's status, where other units are located and who is responding to what calls.

The system is bidirectional: Police officers enter data into applications they access via the wireless network and upload data to central servers for processing, while receiving data from headquarters in return. Headquarters can send photos of suspects, suspicious people or missing persons to officers in the field quickly and securely.

Regarding information security, Craige said policies must incorporate practicality and common sense to be effective. The department creates trains officers on its policies, including educating them to prevent people from viewing the information on their mobile devices or, worse, gaining control of the device. He said the devices have what he calls a BIOS bomb that disables a device and destroys the data if it is lost or stolen.

About the Author

Dan Campbell is a freelance writer with Government Computer News and the president of Millennia Systems Inc.

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