Apart from its outreach efforts, the Forest Grove Police Department will make other improvements this year, the biggest of which involves spending nearly $80,000 to equip patrol cars with new mobile data computers that will connect with the Regional Justice Information Network (RegJIN) by the end of the calendar year.

Capt. Mike Herb said RegJIN is one of the greatest information-sharing and data-management advances in the past few decades.

When the system goes live in January, FGPD will be one of 41 law-enforcement agencies across five counties and two states — including courts, district attorneys and other non-police agencies — that will share relevant data, including criminal records with report narratives. Forest Grove police can avoid scenarios where they question someone about a minor incident — not realizing that he’s wanted or been arrested in connection with a serious crime in a nearby city.

It’s a long way from the Rolodexes, file cabinets and Polaroid cameras the department used to track cases until 1982, when Forest Grove first computerized the task. The department’s current tracking system is outdated and at maximum capacity.

Under the current system, officers write traffic citations which must also be manually entered into the department’s records-management system. The citations are then hand-delivered to Municipal Court, which must manually process them yet again. Along the way, illegible handwriting “is routinely difficult to discern and this creates errors during data entry,” according to the city’s proposed capital improvement program.

With the MRE software, the new mobile-data computers would be able to read barcodes on driver’s licenses and automatically transfer the information into the system. The officer would complete any remaining fields and the information would be downloaded into both the records-management and municipal court systems, “virtually eliminating paper documents,” according to the CIP narrative. “With this system, downloading multiple citations can be done in seconds, with zero errors, versus several minutes per citation that it takes a Records Clerk to manually enter the citations now.”

With Forest Grove issuing roughly 150 citations a month, that adds up to a lot of minutes.

One other improvement Forest Grove’s driving population may want to pay attention to: The police department plans to buy more and higher-quality radar units this year.

Instead of outdated equipment requiring an officer to aim the radar at vehicles from a stationary position, the new units can be mounted in patrol cars and can track speeds any time officers are driving through town. The department recently got three such units and will have enough money in next year’s budget (if approved) to buy five more — enough to outfit all but one of the department’s nine patrol cars.

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