Greencastle Police have computer access while on patrol

PAT FRIDGEN, Echo Pilot
Greencastle police chief John Phillippy demonstrates the capabilities of a mobile computer system, installed in all four squad cars. A program enables file sharing between police agencies, as well as the ability to issue e-citations.

Violators may not see any benefit, but members of the Greencastle Police Department are excited about an expanded reporting system. It means officers can submit ticket information right from the squad car back to the office, to District Justice Duane Cunningham's office and to the network accessed by Pennsylvania State Police. No more driving back to police headquarters to do paperwork.

While officers have used c-NET for law enforcement records and information management at the station for four years, they can now use wireless computers in their vehicles, saving time and money along the way. Now someone pulled over for speeding gets a ticket fresh from a printer, with all of the incriminating evidence and the assessed fine clearly legible. The e-citation is filed immediately to the appropriate agencies.

Police Chief John Phillippy credited the Washington Township police department with obtaining a $219,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency. The money went to both departments, and to the police in Mercersburg. Squad cars were outfitted with hardware and software this year to keep officers out on patrol more, with less time spent at a desk. The system went live in August, operating off cell phone towers.

Waynesboro police chief Barry Keller said he was able to purchase equipment at a good price, so there was money left over to give upgrades to the Waynesboro police department as well. Waynesboro already had the active reporting system.

Phillippy appreciates that the police departments can share information more easily, quite useful in tracking criminals or lesser offenders. Scanners will be arriving soon, so officers can scan drivers' licenses and registrations on the spot.

Keller noted that in the past, officers relied on Franklin County’s 911 center to get data. The vehicle laptops and touch-screen monitors allow officers to research law enforcement records, such as those kept on secure websites by Pennsylvania agencies, while they are in the field. That can speed up investigations.

PCCD determined that up to 25 percent of an officer's time was spent filling out reports at the station during a typical shift. It supported upgrading the technology of the Franklin County departments, so that ideally more officer presence in the communities would mean reduced crime and increased safety.