Written by Thomas M. Manson
MPRI–L-3 Communications PatrolSim IV
Why it’s a big deal: High-resolution driving simulation on multiple screens. Application: Personnel can practice critical decision-making skills in a risk-free environment. Police driving simulators have been around for many years, but the fourth version of PatrolSim™ by MPRI offers several new features, placing it among the top contenders in the field. Drivers in the simulation sit on a full mock up police unit complete with radio stacks and light switches. Wrapped by three large LCD displays, the driver can essentially “see” a 3-D world outside his windshield and side windows.
Comprehensive training software includes hundreds of predefine scenarios. A new scene builder allows operators to create their own scenarios with customized graphics. Also new is the incorporation of a wireless tablet PC, which allows the training officer to move around while monitoring several simulation stations. PatrolSim IV is fully integrated with the live-fire, video-based AIS PRISim™ judgment simulator, allowing students simulate driving to a scene and then engaging a threat. Remington-Elsag MPH 900 Mobile Plate Hunter
Why it’s a big deal: Mobile automated license plate recognition. Application: Personnel can capture 1,500 license plate images per minute. Remington-Elsag’s industry-leading model MPH900 automated license plate recognition (ALPR) continues to be improved. Already capable of processing 1,500 license plates per minute from all 50 U.S. states, Canada and Mexico at speeds of 120 miles per hour, day or night, the MPH900 now has more robust backend software to support its mission.
The latest Command Center Suite Software package supervises hundreds of mobile and fixed ALPR systems. Hot lists of stolen and wanted cars and plates are now created faster and can be wirelessly sent to patrol vehicles while wirelessly downloading data gathered from the patrol units themselves. Also included are upgraded Geo-mapping and Geo-fencing software. Geo-mapping provides precise GPS coordinates for every license plate scanned allowing a virtual road map to be created after the fact. Geo-fencing can be deployed in a variety of application such as creating an alert if someone is driving where he shouldn’t be, such as a convicted sex offender driving near a school. Remington-Elsag’s model MPH900 has been deployed in numerous U.S. law enforcement ALPR applications. Rotomotion SR20 VTOL UAV
Why it’s a big deal: Aerial Surveillance platform. Application: Able to hover in place and provide video coverage of crowds, crime scenes, and accidents. Unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, have gone from the battle field to U.S. Border Patrol to the local police department in less than a few years. As more and more of these UAV manufacturers enter the marketplace, the prices have dropped, bringing them within reach of larger well-heeled agencies. An eye in the sky is no longer pie in the sky.
The battery-powered Rotomotion model SR20 resembles a helicopter, only smaller. A gimbaled turret holds a variety of electro-optical sensors and cameras between its landing struts. The SR20 carries 10 pounds for nearly 30 minutes traveling at 30 miles an hour. The model can also remain stable and hover in flight through its advanced autonomous flight control system (AFCS).
The SR20 can be programmed to follow a set course of predetermined waypoints or can be flown manually. And best of all, the unit will automatically return to its “home” if communication is interrupted, landing safety. For use when an extra pair of eyes above a situation such would be valuable, the SR20 provides a favorable low-cost option when compared to human-powered flight and most other UAVs. Supercircuits Micro Cameras
Why it’s a big deal: Wearable micro cameras provide real-time, all-time video of arrests and field interviews. Application: Allows officers to capture videos outside their patrol vehicles. Video dashboard cameras have been available for public safety vehicles for several years. But problems occur when the “action” steps out the fixed field of vision of the hard mounted cruiser camera.
Portable cameras, capable of being inconspicuously worn by officers are being deployed in public safety applications with greater and greater frequency. Many tactical teams utilize wearable cameras, and many mounted bike officers, without the benefit of a vehicle to store video equipment, frequently wear small body cameras to record their contacts.
Ask any officer whether they would want to be recorded and they would likely say, “No,” as it seems too intrusive into their job and lives. But ask any road or patrol officer if they would like to go on the road without an in-car video unit recording their stops and they would also likely say, “No” because they know how many frivolous complaints the video has prevented from becoming career-ending accusations.
Supercircuits, the leading supplier of covert surveillance devices, latest micro cameras and portable storage devices, provides real-time, all-time video of arrests and police contacts. The Head Mounted Camera (PCHM1), which looks like the traditional SWAT camera but features a ¼-inch color CCD chip set capable of capturing an 80-degree field of vision. Drawing only 250mA of electric power, it can last for hours with even a modest battery set.
For even greater stealth, users can purchase sunglasses with an integrated high-resolution color camera. Both of these units can be connected to a portable storage device like the Advanced Micro DVR (MDVR18), which records at 720x480 resolution, 30 frames a second and includes a crystal clear 2.5-inch LCD screen for playback. Video recorded from these devices can be stored on micro drives or solid state memory carried on law enforcement personnel themselves or sent wirelessly to be stored in their patrol vehicles. Prices for the cameras begin around $250, with complete solutions ranging upwards of $500. Thomas M. Manson is the owner of Police Technical LLC and the technology editor for LAW and ORDER magazine. He speaks nationally on technology and law enforcement. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.