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The Springfield News-Sun covers important issues in the city, including recent stories on the Tremont City Barrel Fill cleanup and the Lead-Safe Springfield program.
The city will spend more than $212,000 to replace aging computers in all of the Springfield Police Division’s cruisers and investigative vehicles, which could allow for wider use of in-car cameras.
The computers are expected to be installed in about 45 patrol and detective cars by April 1, according to public records.
The updated technology will allow for more in-car cameras to be installed in the future, which are currently used only in traffic and K-9 units. Springfield Police Chief Stephen Moody hopes to have cameras eventually installed in all of the patrol cars.
“If they’re on a pursuit or on a simple traffic stop, the ability to gather evidence is vitally important,” he said. “It’s real-time. It can be played for a judge or a jury.”
The computers will replace units purchased in 2004. The computers are currently running Windows XP, which will no longer be supported by Microsoft, according to the documents. It also can’t support in-car cameras and license plate readers.
“Our current hardware inside the cruisers isn’t supporting everything the officers have at their availability,” Moody said.
Technology is vitally important to how law enforcement officers do their jobs, Moody said.
“We’re being more efficient for the community we serve,” he said. “The citizens who pay taxes to have us protect them deserve this.”
City commissioners unanimously approved the expenditure at Tuesday’s meeting.
The city will enter into a five-year contract with Brite Computers of Fishers, N.Y., to purchase and service the in-car computers. The company’s $212,279 bid was the only one received for the project.
It was paid for through the city’s capital projects money and other funding sources, Moody said.
“All of us understand that in business, information technology is becoming more and more important,” Mayor Warren Copeland said. “It saves a tremendous amount of time as compared to the old ways of doing things.”
The computers also will have updated processors that run much faster and 4G wireless capabilities to increase efficiency in the field.
“It’s going to speed things up and put a lot more information at the fingertips of the officers on the street,” Moody said.
The division bought the computers instead of five new cruisers this year, Moody said. Last year, the city purchased five cruisers. They’re also expected to buy six new cars for detectives this year, estimated to cost about $135,000.
Capt. Michael Varner, Capt. Jim Hutchins and Gary Peters from the city’s information technology department spearheaded the project.
The previous computers were designed for law enforcement and public safety, Varner said, which was somewhat limited. The new computers will be more for everyday use.
“It’s kind of like that Neil Armstrong phrase,” he said. “It’s a giant leap for us.”
The cruisers can use the technology anywhere with 4G wireless capability.
“It’s not just in Springfield,” Varner said. “If we take a cruiser out of state, 4G is pretty much everywhere.”
Having more in-car cameras will be beneficial to both residents and officers, Copeland said.
“Down the road, it’s a real possibility,” he said. “I think that’s good for everybody.”