Today’s patrol cars might be equipped with laser-guided tracking device, an automatic license plate recognition system, a mobile forensics lab, and the ability to share and retrieve data, audio, and video, says the Newark Star-Ledger. Paramus Deputy Police Chief Richard Cary calls the technology “force multipliers.”
Some worry that all the technology might become a distraction to officers, particularly when they are driving at high speeds. Investigators are examining whether the state trooper who was driving Gov. Jon Corzine at a speed of 91 mph when his vehicle crashed on April 12 may have been distracted by a phone call, text messages, and an e-mail sent to him. Working to address concerns about technological distractions is Andrew Kun of Project 54 (named for one of TV’s most famous police cars, the cruiser from the 1960s show “Car 54, Where Are You?”) at the University of New Hampshire. The project is aimed at improving the interface between police officers and their in-car technology, using among other things voice commands that allow officers to keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel. The project, funded by the Department of Justice, is aimed at making the most efficient use of police officers’ time while improving safety.