Telematics to aid LA police safety

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We’ve seen telematics benefit all sorts of different industries over the past couple of years, from insurers, to construction businesses, to government employees who might be using a few too many of their constituent’s taxes on out of hours journeys. However now it looks like emergency services could also be set to benefit, as the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) is set to install the tracking technology in a number of its squad cars.

According to the local authorities, the thousands of police cars it has for officers, are caught in over 500 unnecessary accidents every year. These, it hopes, can be avoided if it installs telematics to spot the dangerous drivers among the force. It can also tell in the case of an accident, who was at fault and therefore avoid any insurance fraud claims.

However there are more serious incidents where it could come in to play too. Accidents can sometimes mean someone becoming critically injured, on in the case of one accident involving a police cruiser last year, a woman was hit and killed while officers were responding to a call for back up from fellow policemen.

Investigators would never know important factors like whether the car was speeding, whether it had its lights on or not, how much attention the driver was paying to the road, etc. With telematics, all of that information would have been available.

No word on whether it will stop cops comandeering cars in movies though.

No word on whether it will stop cops comandeering cars in movies though.

Another aspect of the new telematics system – which is bring provided by Ford and Telogis – will track whether officers are wearing their seat belts or not. While this of course will stop them becoming hypocritical enforcers of the law, it should also help keep them safe while out and about.

This might not seem like that important a piece of information to track, but according to LAPD assistant commanding officer, Michael C. Williams (via FleetOwner), officers on the force there have a very low rate of seatbelt wearing: in some departments, as low as 45 per cent. The reason is apparently because some believe they might get trapped in the car and in an emergency wouldn’t be able to respond quickly enough.

“We have to get our arms around this traffic incident issue,” he said. “The health, safety and care of our officers are just as important as taking care of our community. It is important that we intervene [to do what we can to prevent accidents and injuries].”

While there are a lot of nay-sayers in the police department and its companion services, with many unhappy at the idea of police officers being tracked – with some fearing that it would make it easy to target them with retribution – Williams is determined that this is a good idea. He wants to make it work and said that he hopes it will make the police more accountable to the community and could foster better cooperation between the authorities and the police union also.

 

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Jon Martindale is an English author and journalist, who's written for a number of high-profile technology news outlets, covering everything from the latest hardware and software releases, to hacking scandals and online activism.