In Harrison County, Miss., cloud technology is connecting Sheriff’s Department officers with the criminal data they need to stay safe while on patrol.
Using a cloud-based data-sharing platform called InterDEx, Harrison County cops can now pull up criminal records from seven different states and the federal government right from their laptop computer or mobile device. Instead of radioing dispatch to check an identity, officers can run a name or license plate themselves, saving time and limiting the risk of confronting a dangerous criminal without backup.
Developed by InterAct, a provider of public and private safety solutions, InterDEx is accessed from two applications — MobileCop for laptop computers and PocketCop for smartphones.
According to Capt. Walter Pitts of the Harris County Sheriff’s Department, officers have been using MobileCop for about two months and have seen increases in efficiency.
“Our response times have been reduced because we can see where officers are instead of asking,” Pitts said. “They are getting information faster and their time on the scene is less because instead of waiting [on dispatch] for the information, they have it right there and then.”
Officers using InterDEx can also be seen on a screen by both dispatch and other officers, making resource deployment easier in an emergency. In addition, if trouble arises, a user can hit an “Officer Needs Assistance” button that notifies everyone on the system — if GPS is enabled — that an officer is in trouble.
The system also has a secure connection to the FBI National Crime Information Center database. So even if an individual has never been booked into a local jail, or a facility within the network of databases accessed by InterDEx, a positive ID would come up if the suspect has a record with the federal government.
If there is a warrant for the person’s arrest, the officer will see a bright red flash on the screen and a warning tone. The app will also give the user contact information to verify the warrant.
PocketCop can be used on iPhone, Blackberry and Android devices, and MobileCop is designed for laptop computers. The department plans to PocketCop on their iPhones, but is still waiting for the app to be certified by the state before rolling it out. Pitts expected that certification to happen in the next few weeks.
With all the databases and features, InterDEx and its applications may seem on the surface to be confusing to learn. But Pitts said training took two hours to complete, and the system is user-friendly so an officer doesn’t have to spend a lot of time trying to get results.
Pitts added that he had one patrol caption that was “petrified” about using the application on a laptop, but now has turned the corner and likes having information so readily available.
It helps when the push to integrate technology starts from the top. Pitts said Harrison County Sheriff Melvin Brisolara is “all about technology,” and devoted to providing the tools needed to solve crime.
“Once they start getting used to it, we’ll be able to solve crimes and find people a lot faster,” Pitts said. “Some officers are still a little leery about it, but it gives them the information at their fingertips when they need it.”
Brian Heaton was a writer for Government Technology magazine from 2011 to mid-2015.