by Peter Riviere
Dalton's police department is one of the first in the area to go high-tech with a laptop computer installed in the town's solitary cruiser.
"With the state's new digital radio system coming on-line, we'll be able to communicate with anyone also on that system without broadcasting over radio waves easily received by scanners'' said Police Chief John Tholl, demonstrating the compact unit.
The obvious benefit is that computer systems can share scads of information privately as well as accessing criminal records, motor vehicle violations, court records and outstanding warrants instantly and at the scene of an accident.
Already, Tholl has entered every individual he has a traffic or criminal charge on for the year in the computer, giving him a veritable filing cabinet of information at his fingertips. More importantly, the laptop puts that information at the fingertips of his part-time officers as well, officers who may not be as current with recent police activity in the town.
"The computer also allows us to do traffic, accident and incident reports while at the scene, saving valuable time, and to write and file with the courts, citations and summonses, all from the cruiser," said Tholl as he scrolled the town's year-to-date records on the unit, installed on the driveline hump of his GMC Blazer.
The North Country will be the first of the state's geographical areas to get the new digital radio system and with a bit more investment, departments like Dalton will be able to lighten the load currently placed on dispatchers who must fetch motor vehicle registration and identification numbers and do license checks for every traffic stop.
The added security such a data link provides lone patrol officers is immeasurable, said Tholl.