Brookline, MA., police are among the first in the Northeast to use sophisticated voice recognition and response software that will allow officers in cruisers to get information quickly while keeping their eyes on the road, the Boston Globe reports. Officers can hold a button and read the license plate number of a suspicious vehicle into their laptops while driving. The computer then “reads” back information on the car and driver. “This is really about officer safety,” said Brookline Police Technology Officer Scott Wilder. Brookline officers, most alone in cruisers, run 16,000 plates a month. “The old way, [an officer] would stop at a red light and look up a plate, but by the time the responses came back, you would be driving again. Even when you’re making a stop, you want to keep your eye on the vehicle, not look at a computer,” Wilder said.
About 15,000 officers across the country are currently using some version of the voice technology, said Jeff Rubenstein of Advanced Public Safety, the company that makes the software. Some departments in other states are using the next technological step: handheld ticketing modules that are connected with cruiser laptops. When an officer looks up information, using either voice or keyboard commands, it will be automatically transferred to the module. The officer can specify a traffic violation and print out a ticket for the offense, Rubenstein said.