Cleveland police pursue smartphone ticketing

Cleveland police pursue smartphone ticketing

January 16th, 2014 by Paul Leach in Local Regional News

Cleveland City Councilman Richard Banks

CLEVELAND, Tenn. - Cleveland police officers soon may have the ability to issue traffic citations more quickly and efficiently through the use of smartphone technology.

In a recent meeting, the Cleveland City Council voted 7-0 to approve an $82,940 proposal that would provide smartphones, handheld ticket printers and access to Watson Field Reporting ticket citation software for the Cleveland Police Department. The approval for the purchase was made contingent upon available funding.

"That little e-ticketing suite will probably cut our officers' downtime for writing a citation by two-thirds," Capt. David Maddux said.

The handheld technology allows a police officer to scan driver's licenses, access driver and vehicle data and check for outstanding warrants, according to a presentation by Chief David Bishop. The software captures signatures and prints wirelessly.

Bishop said the citations issued look like typical credit card receipts, although on-site credit card payments are not being considered now.

Other advantages of the handheld system are reduced paper costs and the elimination of trips back and forth between the police officer's car and a stopped motorist's vehicle, Maddux said.

He said the Cleveland Police Department will consider adopting software that will allow officers to make crash and arrest reports and conduct field interviews with the same technology.

If all of an officer's data access and document production needs can be met by smartphone technology, it could lead to the elimination of police vehicle laptops, Maddux said. That would mean an estimated savings of $1,200 to $1,300 per vehicle, he said.

Representatives of the Johnson City Police Department, which has adopted the full suite of handheld police reporting tools, said they would never go back to vehicle laptops, Maddux said.

Councilman Richard Banks said he encouraged the purchase, and he complimented Bishop on the department's initiative to embrace the new technology.

"That shows we're a modern, progressive city and, as I've said many times, our citizens expect the council to put public safety first and foremost," Banks said.

Work is underway to finalize costs and funding allocations for purchase of the equipment and software, Assistant City Manager Melinda Carroll said Wednesday. The plan is to adopt the new ticketing tools as soon as possible, she said.

Watson Field Reporting software and hardware services are used by more than 20 county and municipal law enforcement offices in Tennessee, according to a company customer list. That includes police departments in Memphis, Knoxville, Kingsport and cities near those metropolitan areas.

Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Email him at paul.leach.press@gmail.com.