County purchases mobile units
With 200 miles of lakes and numerous ranches and orange groves in its jurisdiction, the Lake County, Fla., Sheriff’s Office has tough terrain to cover. To ensure the safety and efficiency of the special units that cover those areas, the department has implemented a wireless handheld communications system.
In December 1999, Lake County deployed a laptop-based mobile data system in its patrol cars that allowed deputies to access motor vehicle and warrant information in state and local criminal databases. However, some members of the Patrol Bureau travel on foot, boats, bikes and horseback, and they do not have ready access to laptops.
To enhance database access for the Sheriff’s Patrol Bureau, the county expanded its communication system. In April 2001, it purchased 25 Palm Vx devices and software from the Mobile Government Division of Owings Mills, Md.-based Aether Systems. The company implemented the system and provided a trainer for the users. The Sheriff’s Office pays a monthly fee for airtime, warranty repairs and customer support.
Using the handheld devices, the deputies can access databases of the National Crime Information Center, Florida Crime Information Center, National Law Enforcement Telecommunications System and the Department of Motor Vehicles to check the status of vehicles, suspects, articles and guns, without involving a dispatcher. When an officer receives notification of a stolen vehicle or a wanted suspect, he can send a system-wide alarm to all users, including dispatch personnel and users with handheld and laptop units. Broadcasts are secure through digital text messaging.
With the ability to search databases while in the field, members of the special units can handle calls more efficiently. Now, the special unit deputies patrol on equal footing with their car-bound counterparts.