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THE NEXT LOS ANGELES / TURNING IDEAS INTO ACTION : Public Safety : Can we agree on down-to-earth steps to ensure that community-based policing actually will work? : Solutions: Bring the Cops Home, Arm Them With Better Technology

July 17, 1994

FROM: William F. Russell, commanding officer for the Los Angeles Police Department's Support Services Bureau.

The Los Angeles Police Department lags far behind private industry in technology and is even eclipsed by many smaller police departments. It has an antiquated mainframe system that allows almost no electronic interaction and a scattering of personal computers--many of them donated to the department--that can be used only as word processors because they are not interconnected.

As a result, most police reports are written in longhand and photocopied at least 16 times for departmentwide distribution.

Russell wants to bring all 18 geographic police divisions on line with an interactive computer system called LAN, the Local Area Network, with emphasis on shrinking the time detectives spend on paperwork.

The reduction of paperwork would have the benefit of increasing time officers could spend on the street. Russell said he wants to target detectives with the first wave of computers because he believes some quick and obvious gains could be made in their ranks.

"Detectives spend from 40% to 60% of their time processing paper," Russell said.

REALITY CHECK

Financing is the only thing preventing LAN from being installed tomorrow. Estimates for a bare-bones system stretch toward $3 million. But Russell said he is confident that an effort by the mayor's office to obtain corporate donations will be successful and that the system will be in use within two years.

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