Tablets could be latest crime fighting tool for Chesapeake Police


by Karen Hopkins, 13News Now

Posted on March 12, 2014 at 10:45 AM

Updated Thursday, Mar 13 at 6:00 PM

CHESAPEAKE -- Tablets are becoming the latest piece of crime-fighting equipment for police departments across the country. Chesapeake Police is considering adding them to its arsenal.

Officers currently have laptops inside their patrol cars that are about six years old, but they’re hoping for an upgrade.

Deputy Chief Mark Solesky says iPad apps could help police take pictures of accidents, crime scenes and record video interviews with witnesses.  The devices could also allow officers to access police databases, check for warrants and use mapping software to examine crime scenes.

Right now, crews are outfitting patrol cars with Wi-Fi to get ready for the transition.

The City of Chesapeake would have to give the money for the upgrade; no funding is dedicated at this time.

Chesapeake Police haven't decided what kind of tablet to purchase, whether it's an iPad or Microsoft brand. They're considering buying more durable models for patrol officers.

The department would need a couple hundred tablets.

Are other Hampton Roads cities considering iPads? Norfolk and Newport News are the only other locality seriously looking at them.  

"Norfolk Police is evaluating our laptops in our Patrol Vehicles to upgrade to tablets. We are currently testing two tablets, but we have not committed to any particular brand," said spokesman Officer Daniel Hudson.

Newport News Planning Administrator Mark Calhoun explained a heavy-duty police laptop costs about $5,000. A similar tablet is about half the price.

"We want to do away with all the laptops and desktops we can. We will save a lot of money and be able to replace tablets much faster," Calhoun said. 

Suffolk does not currently nor do we look to replace patrol car laptops with iPads, said spokeswoman Diana Klink.

Portsmouth does not use iPads in police vehicles and isn't looking at replacing its current computers -- Panasonic Tough Books, said Det. Misty Holley.

Hampton says they aren't at the point of using iPads instead of mobile data terminals in patrol cars.