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Examples Database: Solutions for Cities.

These program descriptions, selected from the Examples of Programs for Cities database, present new techniques and technologies which cities are using to address public safety issues. Direct member cities and state municipal leagues may request additional research on this or other topics by calling the Municipal Reference Service (MRS) at (202) 626-3130. They may also access the Examples database through Access Local Government on the Web for free (call MRS for details). If your city uses innovative public safety strategies, please notify the MRS staff so that your program can be added to the database.

GIS Maps Find Arson Targets

Camden, New Jersey

Population: 87,492

Address: City of Camden, Police Department, Sixth and Market Streets, Camden, NJ 08101

Contact: (609) 757-7474

Camden uses computer mapping and geographic analysis to help determine future prime targets for arson. Tax assessment records are key to determining target zones, not only because they provide individual property information like address, owner, and property type, but also because they give lien, value, vacancy, and payment history information, factors that are directly linked to arson incidence. This data, along with crime and prior fire incidents, are mapped using a computerized geographic information system (GIS). The GIS digests the data sets into one map which highlights potential target areas. Camden officers in or near target zones, thus expediting response time to fires and reinforcing future deterrence.

Source: Computer mapping helps identify arson targets, by William E. Lutz, Police Chief, v65 n5 (May 1998) p50-52, Alexandria, VA: International Association of Chiefs of Police.

Facility Pinpoints Officers

Elgin, Illinois

Population: 77,010

Address: City of Elgin, 150 Dexter Court, Elgin, IL 60120

Contact: Sgt. Mark Hannel, (847) 289-2576

Elgin has an 86,000 square-foot Law Enforcement Facility which features a $6.5 million advanced communication center. The center contains monitors that can pinpoint the exact location of all police cars to speed up dispatch time, and laser simulator practice areas for weapons training. All computers are connected to a local area network and equipped with CRASH, which allows law enforcement officials to send accident reports to the station electronically using mobile data terminals. Citizens have direct access to records, crime prevention units, and meeting and interview rooms. The facility also houses a detention facility, juvenile and investigation units, administrative offices, and a complete 911 dispatch center. The new facility supports a total of 317 staff.

Source: New facility offers latest community policing technologies. Innovative Products, v3 n15 (1996) p1, 4, Tampa, FL: Innovation Groups.

System TRACKs Abductions

Houston, Texas

Population: 1,630,550

Program Name: Technology to Recover Abducted Kids (TRAK)

Address: City of Houston, Police Department, 1200 Travis, Houston, TX 77002-6000

Contact: Chief C.O. Bradford, (713) 308-1600

Houston uses a computer system called TRAK (Technology to Recover Abducted Kids) to distribute information about missing children. Instead of having to wait several hours for news of a missing child to be broadcast or published by the local media, TRAK allows police to release photographs and detailed information in minutes. The first few hours after an abduction are critical as it gets much more difficult to locate a child as time passes. TRAK equipment makes high-quality color flyers that can be distributed by hand, fax, email, and the Web. The system is also used to create bulletins about other missing persons, stolen property, wanted criminals. There are 33 TRAK units in the Houston area for police departments, television stations, and newspapers.

Source: TRAKing abducted kids. by C.O. Bradford, Community Policing Exchange, v5 n6-21 (Jul./Aug. 1998) p3, Washington, DC: Community Policing Consortium.

Digital Prints Save Time

Newport Beach, California

Population: 66,643

Address: City of Newport Beach, P.O. Box 1768, Newport Beach, CA 92659-1768

Contact: Police Department, (714) 644-3701

The Newport Beach Police Department uses digital cameras to collect and prepare fingerprint evidence. The digital format helps solve cases faster, apprehend suspects quicker, and give the department more time to devote to non-investigative police services. With the aid of a laser or forensic light source, the camera allows a fluorescing fingerprint image to be made. Prints can be sent to CAL ID, a state-wide criminal fingerprint database, in an hour, rather than the eight hours normally required. With conventional black powder lifts, the camera provides clarity and detail allowing print enhancement. On some occasions, pictures are taken of fingerprints at the crime scene. The department uses a scanner to input fingerprint images lifted from objects with tape; however, officials say photographing the image before making the lift provides a cleaner print to work with.

Source: Catching crooks with computers. by Barry Wise, American City & County, v110 n6 (May 1995) p54,56,58-62, Atlanta, GA: Argus Business.

Silent Alarms Cut Crime

Denver, Colorado

Address: Denver Regional Transportation District, 815 South Main Street, Longmont, CO 80501

Contact: (303) 776-4142

Denver area buses are equipped with silent alarms, automatic vehicle location (AVL) devices, and video and sound recorders to increase passenger and operator safety. The silent alarm feature, which can be inconspicuously activated by hand, foot, or knee, alerts the transportation dispatcher to an emergency through the radio system. The AVL then pinpoints the location of the bus to within 50 feet, so assistance can be sent directly and immediately. Drivers are trained to use the alarm system appropriately to minimize the number of unnecessary or inadvertent activations. Video and sound recorders assist in the prosecution of criminal acts on board. With these safety technologies in place, incidents of violence and graffiti decreased by 50 percent.

Source: ITS public safety: how technology and collaboration save lives, by Kathleen F. Hatten, Rebecca Hall, Washington, DC: International City/County Management Association.

Mobile Precinct Works

Sanford, North Carolina

Population: 14,475

Address: City of Sanford, Police Department, 225 East Weatherspoon Street, Sanford, NC 27330

Contact: (919) 775-8268

The Sanford Police Department has a mobile precinct that can function as a major incident command center, officer training center, and community policing department headquarters. The 35-foot vehicle is equipped with landline and cellular telephone systems, communication radios, computer system, fax machine, and two televisions with VCRs. The interior is designed to seat as many as 15 for meetings, hold two computer workstations, a restroom, and a kitchen. A large awning on the exterior can be opened for larger meetings outdoors. Positioning the mobile unit in a target neighborhood allows the police the ability to quickly respond to incidents, and also acts as a visual deterrent to crime.

Source: Designing and equipping a mobile command center. Police Chief, v65 n5 (May 1998) p56, Alexandria, VA: International Association of Chiefs of Police.

Police Carry Defibrillators

Westport, Connecticut

Population: 24,410

Address: Town of Westport, 110 Myrtle Avenue, Westport, CT 06880

Contact: Alan Yoder, (203) 341-1000

Police in Westport carry $3,000 portable defibrillators in their cruisers to revive people who suffer sudden heart attacks. The Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) weigh about six pounds and are the size of a laptop computer. The AED interprets heart rhythms and tells emergency personnel whether to administer an electrical shock, which can sometimes reverse sudden cardiac arrest. A state-authorized training course must be completed by police officers, firefighters, or emergency medical technicians using AEDs. The devices, equipped with five-year lithium batteries, are also carried on Westport's fire engines. All 20 AEDs in Westport have been paid for by $60,000 in donations.

Source: What's new. Connecticut Town & City, v25 n4 (Jul.-Aug. 1997) p34, New Haven, CT: Connecticut Conference of Municipalities.
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Title Annotation:public safety program description from Examples of Programs for Cities database
Author:Behroozi, Cy
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Apr 26, 1999
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