Every time a police officer here goes out on patrol, he carries his gun, his night stick and another vital piece of equipment--his tape recorder.
El Monte, which began the practice about 15 years ago, was one of the first and remains one of the few police departments in the state to arm its officers with tape recorders to speed the otherwise time-consuming and tedious process of generating reports, according to Thomas O. Millet, the assistant chief.
Instead of spending hours writing reports at the station or parked at a curb, officers may dictate reports while on the move. Millet said officers are encouraged to park their squad cars while dictating, but they still can look around. The tape recordings are transcribed at the station by secretaries.
Millet said the practice saves about two hours a day for each patrolman. Moreover, dictated reports are more thorough than written ones, he said. "When you have to write, you make it as brief as possible."