Government Fleet Top News

Police Car Tech Woes for Gilroy Police Department

September 12, 2006

GILROY, CA – State-of-the-art computers installed over the past two years in 28 Police Department police cruisers for the City of Gilroy have gone haywire, costing the city more than $50,000 in repairs and replacement parts, according to the Gilroy Dispatch. Officers have dealt with flickering screens, malfunctioning mouse touchpads, and complete shut-downs of the systems intended to transform each police cruiser into a roving dispatch center. With the exception of three cruisers in the fleet, each patrol car now has a laptop-like screen and keyboard in the front seat and a central processing unit mounted in the trunk.

Malfunctions in the CPUs have not sidelined any cars but have forced officers to once again rely on emergency dispatchers for details on vehicle registration, outstanding arrest warrants, and other information. To solve the power problem, the department began outfitting cruisers in Aug. 2005 with heavy-duty batteries at a cost of $800 each. The department also tried to boost energy output by spending $5,782 on new alternators for 14 vehicles, though that solution was abandoned after engine belts frayed and cars lost power.

The department opted to continue installing more-robust batteries in 27 cruisers at a total cost of $21,600. The installations were completed in Nov. 2005. Roughly six months later, the company hired to install the computers, SecureEye Systems Inc., of Lynnwood, Wash., uncovered a software glitch in the operating systems on each computer. The glitch that was responsible for causing many of the malfunctions was fixed, according to the Gilroy Dispatch.

The department will hold off on installing the last three of the 31 systems purchased from SecureEye. The department will also “phase out” the computer systems if the company fails to get them to work properly, rather than outfitting the entire fleet with new computers.

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