Local News

Friday, Jan 22 2010 04:19 PM

BPD's newest gadgets meant to solve crime

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    By Henry A. Barrios

    Henry A. Barrios / The Californian Bakersfield Police Officer Jeff Paglia uses a hand held E-cite device to scan a drivers license during a traffic stop. The device electronically records all the information for a traffic citation and prints out the citation.

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    By Henry A. Barrios

    Henry A. Barrios / The Californian Bakersfield Police Officer Jeff Paglia uses a hand held E-cite device to electronically record all the information on a traffic citation and print out the citation.

    click to expand click to collapse
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    By Henry A. Barrios

    Henry A. Barrios / The Californian A traffic citation is printed out on a mobile e-cite device that are being used by the Bakersfield Police Department.

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BY STEVE E. SWENSON, Californian staff writer sswenson@bakersfield.com

The wizardry of technology is pushing real life police toward the swiftness of television crime solvers.

Bakersfield Police Department officers in the field have a database for suspects and their photographs, the capability of providing on-the-spot photo lineups, a fingerprint scanner and an electronic traffic ticket device.

While the investigation, arrest and trial of a suspect can't be wrapped up in an hour time slot as it is on television, new technology could take days, weeks and maybe even months off the time it takes to identify and find suspects, Bakersfield police said.

One system police will roll out on Monday is Coplink, which in a matter of a few minutes can compile possible suspect information and photographs, according to Sgt. Tim Brown, the information projects supervisor for Bakersfield police.

While the Bakersfield Police Department is the host agency and the first in Kern County to have the system, the plan is to expand it to all other law enforcement agencies in Kern County, he said.

And within a couple months, Bakersfield police hope to link their system with ones already in Los Angeles, Orange County and Tuscon, Az., he said. In the future, the entire western United States could be on the same system, he said.

Initially, any suspect information is limited to a person with documented contact with Bakersfield police, but as other agencies are added, their databases would appear on the system, Brown said.

It can be used with another new police program to create a "six pack" of photographs for a so-called photo lineup, Brown said. That's a package of six possible suspect photographs a witness can view on the computer in a police car, he said.

The victim can select or eliminate a suspect in a process that could take as little as a few minutes, he said.

Brown illustrated how CopLink can be used, for example, with a robbery victim.

Let's say the victim describes the suspect as a white male, in his 20s, 5-foot-6 to 5-foot-10, with a tattoo on his neck. Brown put that information in the computer, finding 39 people who are in the police Record Management System as possible matches.

But the victim also said the suspect drove away in a white or grey two-door sedan, possibly a Ford Mustang or a Chevrolet. When Brown added that information, it narrowed the possibilities to two, and one of those used a Mustang in a previous crime.

As more and more agencies are hooked up to the program, Bakersfield would be in a position to investigate possible suspects from Los Angeles that have come here to commit crimes, and vice versa, Brown said.

With grants of about $200,000, Bakersfield laid the groundwork to operate the program in Kern, Brown said. He wasn't sure how much it would cost other agencies to join.

Another gadget expected to be very useful is a fingerprint scanner. Fees from the DMV and courts provided money for police to buy 168 scanners known as a Blue Check.

They would be used when police officers believe a suspect is not being truthful about his or her identity. The person would touch the candy bar-sized scanner with his or her index fingers, and if that person has been arrested before in Kern, his name, identifying information and photograph will appear on the officer's in-car computer screen, Brown said.

That could save both the officer and the suspect the time it would take to drive to the Kern County jail to confirm the suspect's identity, Brown said. If a suspect could be cited rather than jailed, it would free up the officer to pursue other duties.

Another handy device is the so-called E-cite, which can scan a violator's driver's license, said traffic officer Jeff Paglia, who demonstrated its use Thursday.

Information from the scan and other ticket details the officer enters from a keyboard on the device allows the information to be directly filed with the court and the department's records.

It saves time it would take a police clerk and a court clerk to type it, Paglia said.

Plus, the device has the ability to quickly download repetitive information -- the officer's name, the location of the offense, the weather conditions etc. -- to save a couple of minutes here and there, he said.

Once the information is complete, the officer puts it in a portable printer to create a paper ticket for the violator, he said.

"I like them," he said.

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