Visiting Pittsburgh neighborhoods that have been riddled by recent shootings, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl yesterday made the case that software can help stem the bloodshed, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The mayor slid into a squad car and got a quick lesson in the city’s automated police reporting system. Starting this month, it’s the only way police are allowed to file crime reports. The idea is to make police file using their in-car computers, newly enhanced with home-grown software, so they have no need to leave neighborhoods to fill out paperwork.
“There’s no reason for an officer now to go back to the zone [station] until their shift is over,” Ravenstahl said. The software “will allow us to have a more visible police presence, and to have officers in the communities more often than at the station. I think that’s what translates into a reduction in crime.” About three-fourths of reports now are coming in throught he electronic system. Rather than hire a vendor to build a system that could have cost $1 million, according to officials, the city’s in-house computer staff teamed with a private firm to write a unique software package at a cost of $150,000. The city is exploring a possible network of security video cameras that officers could access from their mobile computers.