Watch out criminals, Riverdale Park Police will be more efficient and will have a closer eye on crime this year due to all their new technology.
Police are getting tech savvy thanks to more than $22,000 in grant money they received in October.
Police Chief Teresa Chambers announced at the Oct. 4 council meeting that the police department recently received two more grants to help them with their technology in the field and for a closed-circuit television system for their holding cells. For Chambers though, these grants are only adding to previous grant initiatives to improve technology for officers both at the station and out in the field.
"What we're trying to do is have each new grant build on a previous grant," Chambers said.
The process has been extensive, but the grant writing has paid off.
The department has received nearly $500,000 in grant money since July 2009.
With the help of a grant writer from the University of Maryland's Public Safety Training and Technical Assistance Program and Capt. Patrick Timmons, Chambers has sought out and applied for numerous grants from federal and state agencies.
Chambers said once they were turned down for a Byrne grant (which is named after Off. Edward Byrne, who was killed in the line of duty, while protecting a witness in a drug case), but after tweaking it and reapplying, they received $104,000 from the Governor's Office of Crime Control and Prevention.
"We hope to have modern-day firewalls, our own server that's robust and secure," she said. "We'll be able to share information over our server rather than waste paper."
Field officers currently take reports by hand, come back to the station where they type them up and then with the help of a USB drive, transfer the report to the system, but Chambers said she hopes to get it to where they can do everything on the laptops from their cars.
She said the $10,655 Justice Assistance Grant, or JAG, will provide officers two to three new computer workstations, replacing an older workstation and typewriter they have currently, set officers up with digital cameras and printers to help them report the scene of the crime. When the computers are connected to the server, officers will be able to write up reports and simultaneously look for information on suspects, cross checking with nearby police agencies for similar descriptions.
Chambers said the $11,817 for the closed-circuit televisions will allow for the police dispatchers to keep an eye on prisoners in process areas and the new color television system with audio and recording capabilities will replace the 10-year-old black and white TV system they have now, that doesn't have sound.
"We can make sure (prisoners) aren't harming themselves," she said, "and if someone complains of excessive force, we can play the tape back."
Although many of the changes won't affect residents immediately, Chambers said overtime they will see additional case closures. She said officers will be able to easily identify repeat offenders, suspicious people or vehicles.
"We know that if we have 80 crimes a year, it's not 80 different people," Chambers said. "The more technology we have to grab the information we need, the more everything starts to connect."