Small, simple computers for cops on the go
- By Daniel Keegan
- Sep 04, 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 laptop," 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 PalmPilot and check out all the
cars that come up to the house."
PocketCop which runs on Palm VII but will soon also run on Palm V enables officers to tap into state and federal databases and run queries
on vehicles, people, stolen articles and guns. The system also allows 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 that have large police
forces: Florida, Illinois and Texas. The wireless computers use either 3Com
Corp.'s PalmNet or the Cellular Digital Packet Data service and must integrate
with the police department's current network. PSG 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
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.