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Portable wireless data saves police time and sweat.

It's something that can make police officers uneasy, especially at night: the short walk from the patrol car to a vehicle that has been pulled over.

If the police have been actively seeking the vehicle and its occupant(s), officers have a good idea of what they,re getting into. For example, they may approach warily, with hands on guns, if the car's make, model and license plate number matches information given by a merchant robbed earlier at gunpoint.

It isn't as cut-and-dried when officers pull over a motorist for violating a traffic law or, simpler still, for driving a vehicle with a noisy muffler or other defective equipment.

The situation could be innocent. The impact caused by hitting a bump in the road a few miles back caused the tailpipe to separate from the muffler.

However, there could be more to it than meets the eye. The vehicle could be stolen, or the individual to whom it is registered could be a fugitive who is considered armed and dangerous.

Thanks to St. Louis-based Regional Justice Information Service, police officers in the St. Louis metropolitan area have a more complete picture before making the walk. REJIS offers a portable wireless data solution that allows officers to run license plate and driver's license checks in seconds via RAM Mobile Data's shared, two-way networks.

REJIS handled the system integration for its wireless data solution, which was field tested by 20 police departments in the St. Louis area from April through July of this year.

Five portable wireless data solutions were prepared for field use. Each package included two pieces of hardware, a laptop personal computer, from either GRiD or MicroStar Computer Corp., loaded with 3270 terminal-emulation software from Telepartner International Inc., and an Ericsson GE Mobile Communications Mobidem radio modem. The Mobidem accesses RAM's service, which, in turn, accesses REJIS' relational database on an IBM 3090 mainframe.

RETIS's database is linked to the Missouri Uniformed Law Enforcement System (MULES), the database maintained by the Missouri Highway Patrol. Other networked databases include the Illinois Law Enforcement Administration System (LEADS), maintained by the Illinois State Police Department; and the National Crime Information Center, maintained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Within 10 seconds via RAM's networks, officers using the wireless data solution receive the results of a license plate or driver's license check from REJIS' database, which includes a list of stolen or "hot" local cars. Within 60 seconds, officers also know if the motorist is wanted by state or federal authorities.

Following the successful pilot project, REJIS intends to initially deploy 25 wireless data solutions using RAM's networks, and expects that number to double by year's end.

Potential users include the St. Louis City and St. Louis County police departments, two of REJIS' largest customers. Additional local law enforcement organizations are examining the solution as well.

The portable wireless data solutions will first augment and may later replace REJIS' proprietary point-to-point wireless data network, which has been in operation since 1986.

One of the pioneer users of wireless data technology, REJIS was looking for an alternative to its network that covers a 30-mile radius from downtown St. Louis.

One reason is that its network is functioning at maximum user capacity. Studies showed that it would be more economical to expand capacity by using a public wireless data service provider rather than enlarging the proprietary network.

There are also drawbacks with the user terminals supported by the proprietary networks. First, the manufacturer, Motorola, no longer makes them. In addition, police officers were clamoring for added functionality, such as portability, onboard computing power and a larger display.

A key reason why REJIS selected RAM is that wireless data solutions consisting of a wide variety of hardware and software can be used to carry out applications via its networks. RAM uses Mobitex network technology supplied by Ericsson which is based on open, non-proprietary protocols. Thus, any combination of personal computers and software can be used to carry out specific applications. The GRiD and Notestar PCs used in the pilot project have full 1,920-character screens, compared to 480 on the terminals on the proprietary network.

While they are now running license plate and driver's license checks via RAM's service, REJIS envisions police officers, wireless capability being expanded to include more sophisticated applications, such as composing reports in the field and submitting them electronically and accessing computer-aided dispatch and police management systems at headquarters.

REJIS is a non-profit agency that provides data processing and related, value-added services to over 175 local, state and federal justice organizations, including police departments as well as criminal and civil courts.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Nelson Publishing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:St. Louis-based Regional Justice Information Service
Author:Weilbacher, Michael
Publication:Communications News
Date:Oct 1, 1993
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