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Technology to help Norcross police improve response times

NORCROSS -- New technology is helping Norcross police improve officer safety and call response times.

Using funding from federally seized drug money, the city agency recently installed a new device that combines Wi-Fi and GPS technology in patrol cars.

The Atrack AY5i device provides near real-time location data, allowing dispatch officers to almost instantly identify a field officer's location.

"The technology we had before wasn't reliable -- it relied on the vehicle's laptop computer which had to be running and logged into our RMS/CAD systems to work. And the fragile GPS receivers would often break," Police Sgt. Bill Grogan said in a recent presentation to the mayor and City Council. "We explored options, but found that in addition to the initial hardware costs, operating costs for other systems ran anywhere from $7,500 to $12,000 a year. The hardware costs for the Atrack device and GPS licensing were around $10,000 with no operating costs, so it's a one-time expense and that's covered by federal drug monies."

The technology allows dispatchers to locate an officer requesting emergency backup or finding the one nearest to a crime scene, while it also helps the city monitor its police resources.

"Every second counts when someone is in trouble, and this GPS technology will help improve the ability to have an officer on the scene -- and get him backup if needed -- even more quickly than before," Grogan said.

Coordinating with the website www.crimereports.com, the technology can help leaders identify crime trends to determine where patrols are most needed, a press release added

"Not one penny comes out of the pockets of local taxpayers," Norcross Police Chief Warren Summers said of using the seized drug funds. "We have one of most highly certified law enforcement agencies in the country, and it's definitely one of the best-equipped departments I've seen. And the great thing is, it's not at the expense of the citizens. We're basically taking money seized from the 'bad guys' and using it to afford innovative ways to protect law-abiding citizens and our officers."