A technology upgrade in the Marshall County Sheriff's patrol cars is set to help deputies on the road.
Inside the Dodge Chargers, aging laptops were replaced with the latest line of tablets. Within the last month, three Panasonic Toughpad tablets were installed.
"We've had laptop in our cars for years already," said Ted Kamatchus, Marshall County Sheriff. "Some of those the ages were catching up to them. We wanted something that would be smaller in size and fit in these cars."
T-R PHOTO BY STEPHANIE IVANKOVICH
Shane Sweitzer, Marshall County Sheriff’s deputy, looks at the map feature on his tablet in his patrol car. Within the last month, the Marshall County Sheriff’s Department replaced some aging laptops with Panasonic Toughpad tablets.
The tablets allow deputies and officers stay in their car longer.
"If they're in their cars it allows them to be quicker in response," Kamatchus said. "It allows them to stay in the designated areas that they are assigned and it just basically allows for easier information sharing between them, the office and with each other."
Kamatchus said the tablets helps him stay current with data.
"It allows me to be on top of more statistics and do a better job of administrative planning so we know where our problem areas are in the county," Kamatchus said. "Ultimately that information goes back to the deputies and makes them more efficient too."
Shane Sweitzer, a Marshall County Sheriff's deputy, has had the tablet in his car for about three weeks.
"Mine works really well," Sweitzer said. "It's basically a laptop in a tablet form."
During Thanksgiving week Sweitzer did a traffic project and the tablet helped him with citations.
"The state went to a new e-filing system," Sweitzer said. "So if we would have to handwrite a ticket we would have to go to the office, photocopy it, then scan it in, then go to their record system and add it. With this, the citations go from our car straight to our office, straight to the clerk of court. It eliminates the handling and the time we spend out there with all the other steps."
All the tablets include a camera.
"I can take it out during a crime scene and take pictures directly to the tablet instead of having to use a separate device," Sweitzer said.
The deputies and officers also use the cameras to identify people.
"There's a number of situations when we have had an officer or deputy make a stop and they weren't sure who they had and they were able to take a picture and email it out to the cars," Sweitzer said. "One of the deputies recognized the person and they actually reported back to the inquiring deputy of who it is."
The map feature on the tablet allows deputies to see where the other patrol cars are.
"We can assist other agencies if they are on a chase or need help," Sweitzer said. "They can do the same for us."
Kamatchus said when the older laptops in other cars need to be replaced, if it is in the budget, he will get more tablets to stay consistent.
"Hopefully by the time we cycle the other ones out the price will go down a little and we will be able to stay with them," Kamatchus said. "If the deputy goes from car to car, there's familiarity with the computers. We prefer to do that if the budget allows us to in order to maintain consistency from car to car."
Kamatchus said he likes the tablets.
"It's nice, it's a big difference, no doubt about that," Kamatchus said. "We just think this is one of those natural steps of keeping the sheriff's office up with the times and making sure that we fight crime. We are excited to have them as an extra tool."