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MDTs/MPS terminals a help or hinderance???

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#1
I recently attended a accident scene (heard on fire dispatch) involving a local police vehicle. I happened to be right around the corner so walked over to see what there was to see. For the record I do not condone going to any type of call heard on a scanner, listen all you want but dont go there. Anyway back to the story. The police vehicle had just high sided himself in a snow bank. There was no damage and no injury aside to the officers pride. I continued past the scene and left but I did hear the fire dept talking on the radio say that the officer had been trying to read a dispatch call on the terminal and had wandered out of the lane.

I am not going to open the distracted driver issue since in reality the rules are the rules and they are going to be what they are regardless of what I or any one thinks.

The item I want to bring to the front is that many services like the OPP in Ontario are using in car terminals to dispatch calls and information. This is a great time saver for the dispatchers but I think it is going to eventually be a headache or worse a disaster for the frontline officers.

Personally I think that this is a major officer safety issue. My reasons are as follows

- the officer needs to stop and read the message or try and read it while driving not that easy in traffic or on a highway at highway speeds this slows response.

- in most systems the calls are sent to just the single car this means only the dispatcher knows where the car is going and what he is doing. yes other cars can sometimes look up active calls but often the system is set to flag these look ups.

- this type of dispatching puts the officer out there by himself (very dangerous). Under normal radio dispatching every one hears the call and often a closer car will jump in and take the call. if not every car knows where the officer is going and what he is doing. This results in other nearby cars often doing a 'flyby' just to support the officer and to verify all is ok. Also what is lost is another car or officer looses the opportunity of providing other important information like "I was there last week and ...." or "keep an eye out for the neighbor he was/is...." or even "thats so and so they are...."

- officers often loose track of what is happening in their division or town because they dont hear whats happening locall unless they talk to a fellow officer and this could be at the end of the shift hours later. its little hep finding out that a co-worker was looking for John doe and you saw him not more than an hour ago and could have stopper or arrested him then if you had known.

- have you ever tried to do a pursuit or foot chase using a terminal. It dosnt work well

The best solution I have seen is all calls are voiced over the radio EG Car 123 there is a domestic at 321 House St, Details are in the call text With many forces being encrypted there is very little reason for even the details to be sent only to the one car.
 
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#2
Like any technology, it really depends on how it's used and who's using it.
Mobile data terminals have their place, they fill a role.

Unfortunately, officers are not perfect, they make mistakes.

Also, technology can easily overwhelm us. It's up to the user to understand this and use said technology accordingly.

Officer distraction is a huge thing. MDT's are not helping. Using one while driving is a bad idea.

My uncle was an officer and back in the 80's he had one of the very early MDT's in his car. He was good at typing with just his right hand. But, back then they were very simple text only displays. Messages were short and to the point. Modern terminals are built off of PC's and have large displays. Often too much information is shown, text can be too small, etc. Has a lot to do with how the systems are set up, individual users, etc.

I think, eventually, we'll see something happen with this. Either they'll limit what is displayed, or find better ways of doing it.

As for public safety LTE networks, they'll serve their role in MDT's, and it'll make it easier to provide more detailed info, photos, video, building plans, etc. The small handheld terminals I've seen are like ruggedized smart phones.
While there are plans to use these for dispatch, and plans to run Voice over LTE (VoLTE) on the FirstNet network here in the USA, most don't think they'll ever really replace a separate two way radio network. It would be foolish for departments to put all their technology on one radio network, especially one run by an outside contractor.
 

ShyFlyer

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#3
MDTs can be your best friend, or your worst enemy. Usually both.

The department I worked for used Toughbook laptops as MDTs. Policy was that the screen was to be down while the vehicle was in motion. When dispatch sent you a call, they'd voice most of the basic information about the call so that you could get underway and form a basic picture while enroute. Also, the rest of the squad knew who was going where and would either volunteer to assist or take the call themselves if they were closer. Depending on the nature of the call, you could either stop in a parking lot and read the rest of the call info or glance at the screen while at traffic lights. There was a map function too, but it was awkward to use so most officers just bought a Garmin GPS for thier units and used that for guidance.

Many experienced officers drove with the screen up and scrolled through the call info while enroute, despite being frowned upon and the fact that with the screen up in a Crown Vic it blocked most of the passenger side of the front windshield from the driver. Wasn't so much an issue in the F150s or Expeditions. Screen resolution was such that reading the info wasn't too difficult while in motion, just the screen physically blocking the view out the windows.
 
Joined
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10,244
Location
Taxachusetts
#4
Most Dept's have a policy prohibiting the use of the MDT/MDC/Laptop etc, while driving.

I remember, having to sign and get others to sign the User Agreement and this was one of the main sticking points. Two man car - no problem, One man car...ugh

I recently attended a accident scene (heard on fire dispatch) involving a local police vehicle. I happened to be right around the corner so walked over to see what there was to see. For the record I do not condone going to any type of call heard on a scanner, listen all you want but dont go there. Anyway back to the story. The police vehicle had just high sided himself in a snow bank. There was no damage and no injury aside to the officers pride. I continued past the scene and left but I did hear the fire dept talking on the radio say that the officer had been trying to read a dispatch call on the terminal and had wandered out of the lane.

I am not going to open the distracted driver issue since in reality the rules are the rules and they are going to be what they are regardless of what I or any one thinks.

The item I want to bring to the front is that many services like the OPP in Ontario are using in car terminals to dispatch calls and information. This is a great time saver for the dispatchers but I think it is going to eventually be a headache or worse a disaster for the frontline officers.

Personally I think that this is a major officer safety issue. My reasons are as follows

- the officer needs to stop and read the message or try and read it while driving not that easy in traffic or on a highway at highway speeds this slows response.

- in most systems the calls are sent to just the single car this means only the dispatcher knows where the car is going and what he is doing. yes other cars can sometimes look up active calls but often the system is set to flag these look ups.

- this type of dispatching puts the officer out there by himself (very dangerous). Under normal radio dispatching every one hears the call and often a closer car will jump in and take the call. if not every car knows where the officer is going and what he is doing. This results in other nearby cars often doing a 'flyby' just to support the officer and to verify all is ok. Also what is lost is another car or officer looses the opportunity of providing other important information like "I was there last week and ...." or "keep an eye out for the neighbor he was/is...." or even "thats so and so they are...."

- officers often loose track of what is happening in their division or town because they dont hear whats happening locall unless they talk to a fellow officer and this could be at the end of the shift hours later. its little hep finding out that a co-worker was looking for John doe and you saw him not more than an hour ago and could have stopper or arrested him then if you had known.

- have you ever tried to do a pursuit or foot chase using a terminal. It dosnt work well

The best solution I have seen is all calls are voiced over the radio EG Car 123 there is a domestic at 321 House St, Details are in the call text With many forces being encrypted there is very little reason for even the details to be sent only to the one car.
 

troymail

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#5
Around here, I see police units routinely both playing with their data terminals while driving (and drifting) and also talking on their cell phones while driving.... The law in this state allows police and/or other public safety people to use their handheld cell phone while driving but at the same time makes it a violation for any other drive to do so.

I have never understood this -

Last time I checked, police were humans also (yup, still true now) and can result in the same consequences as any other driver -- in some cases, they are more likely to have or cause an incident since they many times are on a call and thinking about the call in advance of arriving there for safety and other reasons.
 
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#6
Back in 1973, I was stopped at a light in Des Plaines Illinois. To my left a police car was speeding toward the intersection with lights and siren. As the cop made his right turn, I could see he had one hand on the wheel, the other trying to collect a huge clipboard and flashlight flying accross his dashboard. It made me pucker a bit as he missed me by an inch or two.
 

natedawg1604

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#8
Fairly recently I was driving on City streets and saw an LEO stopped at an intersection (1) talking on the cell phone, (2) AND talking on the radio, and (3) AND typing on the Computer all at once. It was pretty funny...
 
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