Small, simple computers for cops on the go
- By Daniel Keegan
- Jul 19, 2000
The premise of Public Safety Group, Inc.'s "PocketCop" device is simple:
Police officers cannot carry a laptop on horses, motorcycles, when walking
around a neighborhood or while undercover.
What they need is something ultra-portable and shock-resistant. "You're
not going to have a detective outside a drug house with a lap top," said
Don Nagle, PSG's vice president. "Anyone who goes by will know what is going
on. But a cop can sit in the car with a Palm Pilot and check out all the
cars that come up to the house."
PocketCop, which uses Palm VII, but will soon run on Palm V, allows officers
to tap into state and federal databases and query vehicles, people, stolen
articles and guns. The system also allows for messaging and e-mail access.
PSG (www.psginc.cc), founded in March by five former public safety professionals,
specializes in computer-related public safety products and consulting services.
The start-up company is focusing on three states with lots of cops: Florida,
Illinois and Texas. The wireless computers use either 3Com's Palm.Net or
the Cellular Digital Packet Data service, and must integrate with the police
department's current network. The company cannot yet work with police departments
that do not have an existing network.
Nagle said the PocketCop helps all officers who cannot use a cumbersome
laptop. "We just want to give them the same type of inquiry capabilities
as a typical patrol officer," he said. But he added that he is not trying
to replace all laptops with handheld computers.
PSG charges $2,995 for the first handheld computer and the network connection,
and $1,995 for each subsequent device. The company has two small contracts,
selling one device to Rolling Meadows, Ill., and three to Highland Park,
Texas. Nagle said the contracts are "investments" and that he expects the
departments to buy more as they learn of its usefulness.