Welcome to 21st century

Published 6:38 pm Monday, July 13, 2009

We’re living in the digital age, and police officers are no different.

When pre-teens with an iPhone can get a satellite map of their current location and follow their movements in real time, the process of writing out and filing tickets seems outdated. Officers currently take their paper tickets back to the station, where clerks enter all the data and mail any needed information to Montgomery.

State law, however, will soon require departments to submit all data digitally, a task that will require significant expenses.

The city of Clanton recently received some help in that department in the form of a $35,000 grant, which will be enough to equip five police cars with the needed technology.

The computers will allow officers to give tickets and file incident and arrest reports from the field. The information will then be entered into state databases without a paper trail.

It’s great to be green, but the electronic system will have other benefits. Because tickets will be printed instead of written by hand, they are guaranteed to be legible. Disputes about the information entered on the ticket will be avoided.

And, as Clanton Police Chief Brian Stilwell pointed out, the system will likely save departments money in the long run because of increased efficiency. “We will definitely have a good return on our investment,” Stilwell said.

The state has set a 2010 deadline for all tickets to be issued via computers. Is there a countdown app on our iPhones?