to officer safety is transmitted directly to the initial return screen. Users may access additional data through Web hyperlinks.

Field ID

By replacing a cumbersome paper-based field ID system, eCop could save detectives hundreds of hours of labor each year and help them solve cases more quickly.

Deputies use the field ID system whenever they come across a suspicious person or situation but no arrest is made and the matter does not merit a formal report. Under the existing process, photos are taken and clipped to a card containing other identifying information. These cards are dropped off at the stationhouse and filed manually. When a major crime takes place, detectives typically go through these files looking for suspects.

Sacramento County estimates that the paper process captures field IDs in less than half of the situations that warrant them. And for detectives, using the paper files typically demands two stationhouse visits and many hours of research for each investigation.

Using eCop, officers file field IDs electronically, submitting them wirelessly to the main database. These records are available instantly in a searchable format on the detectives desktop PC -- a feature that could help the department solve cases much more quickly.

One recent occurrence highlights the systems value to cops on the beat. Deputies were serving a warrant at an apartment complex and knocked on a door. A parole violator across the hall heard the knock, thought he was being apprehended and attacked the deputies. Had eCop been available, the system could have provided deputies with information about the individual they were serving, as well as potential dangers such as nearby parolees.

The Sheriffs Department is also developing a built-in camera for its handhelds to speed up the identification process. Currently, when an officer stops someone who doesnt have identification, the officer either lets the person go or, with probable cause, hauls the suspect to jail. But it takes the department four hours to verify a fingerprint identification with the state Department of Justice. Field photograph capabilities quickly let officers know if they are being lied to, greatly increasing the chances of apprehending guilty citizens while leaving innocent citizens alone.

eCop aids police in missing persons cases, too. Currently, to get a photo out to all points requires printing it at the stationhouse and distributing it at the briefing on the following shift. In the case of missing children, some detectives say law enforcement agencies have as little as four hours to look for the child. Beyond this time, the likelihood of saving a life diminishes rapidly. Therefore, the capacity to immediately transmit a photo to all officers increases the chances of success.

eCop gives deputies on foot, motorcycle or horseback mobile access to justice databases for the first time. The automated system allows them to search criminal justice and DOJ records; verify drivers licenses and vehicle registrations; and identify suspects.

Test First

The project has passed the prototype stage and has entered a pilot phase. The county currently is testing the systems mug shot features.

"We want to test it thoroughly to resolve issues, such as wireless coverage, speed of download and any other challenges," said Schultz. "Once the pilot is completed, we will roll it out across the entire county."

When fully implemented, the system will allow officers to spend more time with the public. Schultz estimates eCop will save each officer 1,824 hours per year.

Drew Robb  |  Contributing Writer