Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

Chesterton, Ind. Police Use Wireless Computers to Uncover "False and Fictitious" Residents

Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

Chesterton, Ind. Police Use Wireless Computers to Uncover "False and Fictitious" Residents

Article excerpt

Chestron, Ind. police use laptop computers to uncover "false and fictitious" residents.

There's been a population explosion in the bedroom town of Chesterton and a lot of people are trying to hide where they're sleeping.

Surrounded by major highways an easy commute from Chicago, going up every day, a surge of people are coming to town for the Indiana lifestyle -- through not for the high vehicle registration fees. In adjacent Illinois registration fees are as low as $10, while in Indiana registration costs soar into the hundreds because state excise taxes are based on the car's book value.

To avoid these fees, many Indiana residents maintain illegal out-of-state car registrations or fail to keep their registration information current. Indiana car license plates are leased to drivers, who must re-register their plates whenever they are attached to a new vehicle. Since buying a new car many residents don't legally transfer their plates to avoid paying higher registration fees.

Using PacketCluster[R] PatrolTM, a mobile information system from Marlbourough, Mass.-based Cereulean Technology, Inc., Chesterton's 16 police officers are cracking down on residents holding illegal out-of-state vehicle registrations. PacketCluster Patrol uses wireless communications technology to allow officers to access local, state and national motor vehicle and law enforcement databases from patrol cars equipped with laptop computers, giving them immediate access to driver and car information such as plate, registration and license statuses. Using this system, Chesterton police officers can quickly identify "false and fictitious" plate attachments.

"With PacketCluster, officers punch a license plate number into the system and know within seconds if the plate belongs to that car," said Chesterton Police Chief George M. Nelson. "In addition, since PacketCluster automatically pulls up details on a car's owner, the officer can tell if the person has an Indiana driver's license but an out-of-state vehicle registration. …

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