States Turn to Computers to Fight Crime on the Cheap

Article excerpt

STATE executives across the nation are looking to high-tech solutions to cope with budget shortfalls in their fight against crime.

New technologies are "the only way we can make progress at a time of limited government resources," South Carolina Gov. Carroll Campbell (R) told a gathering of national governors in Boston last month. "There's going to be a major infrastructure expansion in this country."

Some examples:

* Maryland's Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services is constructing an automated booking facility. Its new client/server computer system will process all adults arrested in Baltimore, including on-line, live-scan fingerprint image transmission, electronic video mug shots, and bar-code technology on detainee bracelets. Officers will use hand-held scanners to track an individual's movement throughout the booking process. Booking procedures in Baltimore are expected to be on line by 1995, and then expanded to the rest of the state. State officials expect to free up 150 police officers by next July as a result of this innovative use of technology.

"We're looking for technologically based solutions. If we can cut arrest times, we can put tens of thousands of man hours back on the street {for police patrols}," says Leonard Sipes, Maryland's director of public information. …