Illinois police seek high-tech horizon

The Illinois State Police Department is bringing the latest law enforcement technology into squad cars, crime labs and precinct offices across the state.

As part of the initiative known as ISP 2000, Gov. George Ryan has instructed state police director Sam Nolen to assess all the technologies on the market and to develop a plan for fostering new technology development and for training the work force.

ISP 2000 also calls for the state police to develop a plan for sharing its technology, facilities and expertise with local police agencies.

Ryan announced ISP 2000 during his State of the State speech earlier this month, describing it as a way to "level the playing field" with criminals who have armed themselves "with an array of high-powered weaponry and high-tech tools."

Ken Bouche, assistant deputy director of the state police, described ISP 2000 as a way of setting priorities for the department's modernization projects, some of which are already under way.

"It was [Ryan's] edict we need to continue to move forward on these efforts and standardize them. Instead of things we are looking at for the future, they are now expectations," Bouche said.

The department will focus on:

* Communications and recordkeeping technology — making it possible for the 900 police agencies across the state to talk to each other via radio, to exchange data via mobile data terminals and to access a statewide records systems.

* Forensics technology — including the development of a forensics institute, where police can get hands-on training with the latest technology, and continued research into a DNA microchip, for processing DNA-related evidence.

* Manpower — increasing the staff using the technology as the demands for these services increases.

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