The Athens Police Department is introducing new technology that is expected to make its operations more efficient.
At the Athens City Council study session on Monday, Acting Police Chief Fred Schultz and Patrol Sgt. Casey Patterson gave an overview and demonstration of the ministry’s new electronic citation system.
“This has been in the works for several months,” said Schultz. “We went online with him last month.”
The ministry is also implementing a new case management system that will work in conjunction with the electronic citation system.
“It’s more efficient, it’s safer, it reduces errors,” Schultz said of the e-citations.
As an example of the system’s efficiency, Schultz noted that an average traffic stop takes between 10 and 15 minutes. With the new system, Schultz expects that time to be reduced to between three and five minutes.
Schultz added that the new system is expected to improve safety for officers and motorists. He noted a study which found that between 35% and 40% of officer deaths occur during traffic stops.
The electronic citation system works on a pair of devices. A portable device the size of a smartphone is used to enter and scan information and communicates with a small portable printer.
The devices are returned to service and placed in a docking station to upload the information to the main database. The device is capable of communicating over a wireless internet connection, but there are no plans to use this feature immediately, according to Schultz.
Schultz said the new system would eliminate multiple data entry steps and make reports available more quickly.
“Once you download it, all the information you scanned on the spot is already in that system,” he said.
Patterson said the department currently has 10 units capable of scanning driver’s licenses, records and other relevant information. As an example, Patterson said, if a driver doesn’t have their vehicle’s registration, the unit can scan a vehicle identification number to instantly determine registration status.
Eventually, agents will be able to instantly share information through these devices. Patterson said an example of how this could be helpful is when two officers are at the scene of an accident and are separated from each other and unable to immediately communicate.
Instead of the traditional carbon copy quotes usually issued, the new system prints a quote that looks like a grocery receipt. These citations will include a QR code that can be scanned to provide all the necessary information – court dates, places of payment, etc. – to the person cited.
“It gives our citizens a bit faster access instead of having to call (the police department),” Patterson said.
The system is currently used primarily for traffic citations, but the ministry ultimately expects these units to facilitate all data entry.