Mounted Louisville officers get communications upgrade
2:16 AM, Aug. 12, 2011
Mounted patrol officer Justin Hardy and his horse, Fury, are carrying a computer on horseback that can check records. / By Kylene Lloyd, The Courier-Journal
The Louisville Metro Police Department’s mounted patrol officers have begun using a new piece of equipment that provides for better communication and will allow them to perform duties as if they were riding in cruisers.
The new Mobile Data Terminals — or MDTs — are fastened into the breast collars and lie on the backs of the officers’ trusted horses. The department has been hoping to implement the system since the beginning of the year, said Lt. Dan Assef, who oversees operations for the mounted patrol unit.
“It gives them the ability to do some of the things patrol officers can do in their cars,” Assef said of the smallish, hand-held Panasonic U-1 computers.
The computers provide direct links to emergency dispatch and the police department’s records management system and will help officers run records checks directly from horseback. Previously, they had to call in information.
They are similar in function to the kind of computers now in police cruisers, but they run on internal batteries, are smaller and are more accessible for horseback, Assef said.
‘We were looking for something they could carry on horseback with all of the advances with technology,” he said.
Mounted officers will be able check an individual’s traffic violation history and whether the vehicle is registered, Assef said.
They still must write out citations but now have the convenience of checking things through the database to see if a person is “wanted for anything or if the vehicle is wanted for anything,” he said.
There are currently three mounted patrol officers, but the unit allows for four, Assef said.
Officer Bill White said Wednesday afternoon, atop his horse Lance near Waterfront Park, that the system is working well so far.
“They’re helping us keep up with the beat officers,” he said.
Before the smaller MDTs were in use, mounted patrol officers had to check with dispatch to find out where officers out on runs were located. Now, however, they can access that information directly.
The devices also can access the Internet and weather radar, said Officer Justin Hardy, who was riding with White Wednesday.
“This is definitely worth it,” Hardy said of the device. “It has caught us up with the technology other officers are using.”
Each device costs about $3,300, and police currently have about eight, said Lt. Robert Schroeder, commander of the Metro police planning and technology unit. Only three have been handed out, all to the mounted patrol unit.
Plans are for the remainder of the devices to be assigned to bicycle and ATV patrols at some point, Schroeder said.
Reporter Chris Quay can be reached at (502) XXX-XXXX.