Wednesday, April 16, 2014

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New police technology aims to protect and serve

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TWC News: New police technology aims to protect and serve
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Former law enforcement officer Russell Chaney remembers the day 72-year-old Melvin Hale shot and killed Texas State Trooper Randall Vetter. It happened while Vetter was conducting a traffic stop in Hays County in August 2000.

"[Hale] had made threats against officers. If he was stopped again for not wearing a seat belt he was going to kill the officer that stopped him," Chaney said.

Vetter was that officer. Chaney said Vetter had no way of knowing the man he was pulling over had made that threat.

"This information was known to be in police databases but because police databases don't interface or talk to each other, this information was not shared with our friend prior to him making the traffic stop," Chaney said.

Chaney and his business partner Shane Rapp turned this tragedy into technology. They started PostInk Technology in New Braunfels and created a web-based program called Copsync solution.

"What we've written here is a patrol interface that allows the officer to conduct all of his activities from the unit," Rapp said.

San Marcos Police Chief Howard Williams' officers will be among the first to test the program.

"This really has been the bane of law enforcement. We don't have a way of communicating information," Williams said.

Similar programs already exist, but Williams said this one, if successful, will allow participating agencies to share that information in real time.

"It will be pretty much like an Internet link for police agencies. We'll be able to look anywhere - any agency anywhere in the country that is contributing information to this system. The criminal intelligence we'll have, the capabilities we'll have of knowing where someone will be or where they've been in the past will be phenomenal," he said.

The program will work with most law enforcement database systems so agencies won't have to change the way they do things, Rapp said.

PostInk Solutions is allowing the Hays County Sheriff's Office, Kyle Police Department, San Marcos Police Department and Texas State University Police Department to test the system for free. Future agencies will have to pay a subscription fee to use the service.

Hays County Sheriff Chief Deputy Sam Williams would like to see the idea to catch on.

"The more interconnectivity there the more value to the information to the information that can be accessed," Williams said.

Smaller law enforcement agencies, like the Kyle Police Department, stand to gain, Williams said.

"Now they are tapping into a huge amount of information that under no other circumstance would they be able to," Williams said.

The participating departments will be implementing the program within the next month.

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