East Hanover Police First in New Jersey to Employ Wireless 'Mug Shots'

EAST HANOVER, NJ — Police in East Hanover are the first in New Jersey, and among a handful of departments across the country, to use Bell Atlantic Mobile's AirBridge? wireless data network to access 'mug shot' photos of suspects right from laptop computers in their patrol cars.

According to East Hanover Police Officer Jeffrey Swett, the ability to verify a person's identity by viewing mug shots on-the-spot provides officers with the photographic information they need to make critical decisions that can enhance their personal safety and that of the community. Mug shots are transmitted in the form of digital color photos and can be retrieved in as little as 65-70 seconds time.

The department, which deployed Bell Atlantic Mobile's AirBridge® wireless data network to access text information from the Department of Motor Vehicles, municipal court listings and state and federal criminal records more than a year ago, recently added the new mug shot feature as a system enhancement. Nine patrol cars are equipped with the laptop computers that use the wireless service and a tenth wireless unit is housed in a briefcase for use by undercover officers in sensitive investigations.

"The old saying that 'a picture is worth a thousand words' has never been more true," said Officer Swett. "There are many reasons why a person would claim to be someone else when pulled over by a police officer. By viewing the 'mug shot,' the officer is able to verify the person's identity and determine an appropriate course of action.

"Our officers use the laptops constantly to obtain critical information in seconds without leaving their patrol cars. They can determine if an individual is driving with a revoked license or wanted for another traffic violation or criminal offense. This new 'mug shot' feature just adds another layer of security to our remote operations," Swett said.

In one possible scenario, Swett said undercover officers who site a suspect can type that individual's physical characteristics into their laptop unit and, in just one minute, receive a series of photos of the top ten persons on file fitting that description.

The software is designed so the photos can be updated; every time an arrest is made a photo can be added to the database.

Charles Hand, president of Bell Atlantic Mobile's New York Metro region, said messages carried over the AirBridge wireless data network are "encrypted," or scrambled, to prevent unauthorized reception.

"Police departments throughout the area have come to rely on the critical information that Bell Atlantic Mobile technology puts at their fingertips," Hand said. "We're now happy to enhance text information with digital photographs."

More than 30 New Jersey police departments currently use Bell Atlantic Mobile's wireless data network to access centralized text information including Livingston, Bridgewater, Somerville, Mahwah and Allenhurst.

In the NY/NJ Metro region, Bell Atlantic Mobile was named leader in overall customer satisfaction among wireless users, according to the prestigious J.D. Power and Associates 1998 U.S. Wireless Customer Satisfaction Study.sm

Bell Atlantic Mobile owns and operates the largest wireless network in the East, covering 120,000 square miles, and the largest chain of retail outlets devoted exclusively to wireless voice, data and paging. Based in Bedminster, NJ, Bell Atlantic Mobile has 6.2 million customers and 8,000 employees from Maine to Georgia and, through a separate subsidiary, in the Southwest. Through its "Wireless at Work..." community service program, the company uses its technology to help individuals and communities improve security and emergency communications. Bell Atlantic Mobile's parent is one of the world's largest wireless communications companies, with domestic operations in 25 states and international investments in Mexico, Europe and the Pacific Rim. For more information on Bell Atlantic Mobile visit: www.verizonwireless.co; on global operations visit: www.bellatlantic.com/worldwide.

Editor's Note: Photos available upon request.