Charlottetown police getting new tool to fight crime

Ontario company designing state-of-the-art computer system that will be installed in every cruiser

Dave Stewart
Published on March 13, 2014
2012 Charlottetown Police crest logo
Guardian photo

Police cruisers in Charlottetown will soon become mobile command centres.

Charlottetown Police Services is in the process of working with London, Ont.-based Digital Evidence International Inc. to install state-of-the-art computer systems in all of the police cruisers.

There is reportedly no cost to the city police service because the Charlottetown force is doing the installation as part of a pilot project.

Charlottetown Police Services currently uses the P.R.O.S. (Police Reporting and Occurrence System), which enables officers to document, manage, access and exchange information on case files.

As of April 1, they will be test-driving the O.S.C.I.D (Occurrence and Serious Crime Investigation Database) system that the London-based company has just designed.

Coun. David MacDonald, chairman of protective and emergency services, announced the impending move at city council’s regular public monthly meeting on Monday night.

“Charlottetown Police Services was given an opportunity to get in on the ground floor,’’ MacDonald said. “That (Ontario) company is in the process of building a state-of-the-art records management system for police forces. This one is being developed strictly for Charlottetown Police Services by this company with the idea that we’re going to be a test operation, essentially.’’

The new computer system will be installed in every cruiser, giving officers access to information they currently don’t have.

Photographs and fingerprints can be digitally transferred directly to the cruisers. Officers will be able to generate a photo lineup right from the vehicle.

The new system will feature a major crime investigation component, where an officer, for example, can see who the major players related to a significant case are.

Deputy Police Chief Gary McGuigan was hesitant to get into the nuts and bolts of the new system. He said they are still in the process of “rolling out the kinks’’ and would have more to say when things go online April 1.

Steve Rogers, president and CEO of Digital Evidence International Inc., has worked with Charlottetown Police Services before. Rogers, a 24-year veteran of the RCMP, spent time working with the major crime unit in 2012, trying to enhance its system and bring capabilities to a new level.

MacDonald said the new system is secure, allowing only those with identified access to being able to get certain kinds of information.

“It’s a very, very good system. It allows the officers to operate much more efficiently from their vehicles for routine purposes (and) it also allows the police services to do general major crime operations much more effectively and much more covertly,’’ the councillor said.

It is also designed to reduce the amount of administrative work officers have to do.

“Because there is this information sharing capacity it can go right to cars (which means) a lot less time spent administratively. You don’t have to drive back to the office every time you want to look at a lineup or every time you want to compare fingerprints . . . or get information on something.’’

MacDonald said the new system isn’t meant to replace the force’s greatest asset — police officers.

“The best use of police resources now is technology. Boots on the ground will always be important, there needs to be enough officers to do this work but intelligence gathering is extremely important.’’

MacDonald said it’s that kind of police work that made Operation Clean Sweep, where police seized more than $400,000 in drugs in the force’s largest drug bust in January, possible.

Depending on how this system works in Charlottetown, the plan would be roll it out to other municipal police forces.