Oklahoma City Police seek to replace obsolete equipment

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Police seek to replace obsolete equipment 03/11/2000 By Ken Raymond Staff Writer

The mobile data terminals used by Oklahoma City police and firefighters to gather information in the field and communicate with dispatchers are outdated, police officials said.

"Those MDTs can't be replaced if they break because they're obsolete," Police Chief M.T. Berry said. If voters approve the half-cent public safety sales tax Tuesday, the city will have the funds needed to update the equipment: $7.5 million to purchase modern mobile data terminals and an additional $1 million for an accompanying wireless system.

On the hardware side, the mobile data terminals are simply old and tired, prone to breakage after years of service. On the software side, the terminals are nearly extinct, Berry said.

"The biggest problem is the software," he said. "They're so old, the manufacturer said they can't provide updates anymore. My technical people tell me that generally means the manufacturer won't even support the software within three to four years."

New MDTs are similar to laptop computers but are engineered to withstand more abuse. Each costs about $6,000 and works with a police cruiser's two-way radio and radio modem to link up with dispatch and various databases.

Berry said police could use new terminals for communication, imaging, mapping and similar functions. If officers at headquarters obtained a photograph of a suspect, for example, it could be transmitted instantly to all officers in the field.

Mapping features could provide officers with detailed terrain maps, warning them of upcoming obstructions and advising the best places to set up roadblocks. Building floor plans also would be accessible from the field.


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), March 11, 2000

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