Washington, DC Police to Unveil New High-Tech Weaponry Against Criminals

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) is taking its crime-fighting to a new high-tech level utilizing Bell Atlantic Mobile's AirBridge(r) wireless data network, and enhancing the safety of District of Columbia residents, workers, visitors and law enforcement officers.

In a news conference today, Interim Police Chief Sonya T. Proctor announced that 14 D.C. police cruisers patrolling city streets now have instant wireless access to criminal databases and Bureau of Motor Vehicle records via portable laptop computers. Armed with Bell Atlantic Mobile's Cellular Digital Packet Data (CDPD), officers can access a variety of informational checks from anywhere in the city in about 15 seconds. These checks include vehicle identification number, license tag, drivers' license and criminal history. The system also allows for e-mail to be relayed between officers on the street. The program will be expanded to 177 laptops by the end of 1998.

The system gives officers direct access to the National Criminal Information Center, the Washington Area Law Enforcement System and nationwide motor vehicle information.

By connecting directly to the databases via CDPD, officers don't have to rely on the department's dispatch operators - who are responsible for many other functions - for critical information.

This direct access in the field saves time, frees up emergency radio frequencies, enhances accuracy and ensures privacy. Information which once took 15 minutes or more to access and was transmitted over non-secure radio channels is now accessible in as little as 15 seconds over fully encrypted, secure digital channels, which is especially important for sensitive information.

"There's no doubt that officers equipped with laptops directly linked to local, state and federal databases will function more effectively," said MPD Interim Police Chief Proctor. "The safety of our officers and the expectations of our community demand that we maximize the availability of information at the scene. Officers will be able to better assess potentially dangerous situations, and it will allow them to spend more time patrolling city streets."

"When we can put the power of wireless data to work against crime, it's a win-win situation for the police and for the community," said Gary Schulman, president of Bell Atlantic Mobile in Washington/Baltimore. "This CDPD network is fast, accurate, private, affordable, and there's no need for the department to invest the time, money and technical expertise to construct their own radio infrastructure."

Editor's Note:

Bell Atlantic Mobile is the largest wireless service provider on the East Coast and the second largest in the United States. The company owns and operates the most extensive network in the East, covering 111,000 square miles, and the largest chain of wireless retail outlets offering a full range of wireless personal communications services, including voice, data and paging. Based in Bedminster, NJ, Bell Atlantic Mobile has more than 5 million customers and 7,000 employees in the Northeast, mid-Atlantic, Southeast, and - through a separate subsidiary - the Southwest. Through its "Wireless at Work..." community relations program, which includes HopeLine( voice mail service, Bell Atlantic Mobile uses its wireless technology to help individuals and communities improve security and emergency communications.