New Car Computers Make Life Easier for Portage, Wis., Police

The police department has replaced computers in eight squad vehicles so far for $3,600 apiece. The upgrade will help agencies in Columbia County begin sharing data more closely with the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office.

by Brad Allen, WiscNews / August 26, 2019

(TNS) — Since the Portage Police Department upgraded its squad car computers in the past few weeks, Sgt. Ben Neumann said filing reports is faster, simpler and uses less paper.

“It makes life a lot easier,” Neumann said. “It’s definitely an upgrade.”

The police department has replaced the computers in eight of its squad vehicles so far at a cost of $3,600 apiece, Assistant Police Chief Keith Klakfe said.

Klafke said the department also plans to soon upgrade two other squad vehicles’ computers to Windows 10 at a much lower cost of $200. Those vehicles will serve as backup in case another squad car’s system malfunctions.

Upgrading the remaining three vehicles’ computer modules in early 2020 will depend on whether the necessary funds - roughly $10,800 more - are approved in the police department’s 2020 budget, Klafke said.

The department has a total fleet size of 13 vehicles, including command staff, Klafke said.

“It’s just a lot of juggling, making sure we have the fleet up and running,” Klafke said.

The plethora of upgrades comes months after multiple police agencies in Columbia County converted to the Spillman records management system and began sharing data more closely with the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office.

Increased efficiency for patrol officers in their daily operations is one perk. Upgrading the vehicles also will improve internet access outside of the police station and speed up communication, Klakfe said.

The community service officers’ vehicle will soon have amber lighting and traditional red and blue police lights. Klafke said this will allow greater interchangeability between community service officers’ daily operations and command staff responding to emergencies.

Neumann said he’s had to make fewer trips back to the station on shifts to check files on the sergeants’ shared computer. His squad car now is set up exactly the same as the desktop inside the station downtown.

Replacing some of the squad car computers has saved time in day-to-day routines, Neumann said. This allows officers to spend more time on patrol and being visible in the community.

Follow Brad on Twitter @BradMikeAllen or call him at 608-745-3510.

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