Laptops in police cruisers: why?

15 Sep

I’m not ordinarily in the habit of looking inside police cruisers, but as I was waiting to cross the street at an intersection, one pulled up in front of me at the corner, front windows down, and I noticed a laptop computer mounted in the centre of the console, next to the steering wheel, facing the driver seat. I thought, “Interesting; they will stop and fine someone they catch texting while driving (and rightly so, IMO), but that’s okay? What do they need to look up so quickly that they can’t radio someone back at Dispatch look up for them, instead?”

And wouldn’t that be faster anyway, not needing to pull over to do it themselves?

Just wondering.


Posted by on September 15, 2016 in government, law, nanny / police state


31 responses to “Laptops in police cruisers: why?

  1. Matt

    September 15, 2016 at 1:27 pm

    I don’t know what the purpose of them is, but I’ve seen officers watching movies on them before, both while driving and while parked.

    • Will S.

      September 15, 2016 at 1:30 pm


    • Will S.

      September 15, 2016 at 1:34 pm

      After all, can’t have Dispatch do that for you! 😉

      • Matt

        September 15, 2016 at 1:35 pm

        *laughs* indeed, they also can’t check your email, Facebook, or Twitter for you. And if you live in Utah, Pinterest.

      • Will S.

        September 15, 2016 at 1:39 pm


        What is special about Pinterest in Utah?

      • Matt

        September 15, 2016 at 1:46 pm

        Mormon girls, man. They love it. It’s almost a stereotype. I learned this because I recently got married and during the process, every single vendor here asked “Do you have pinterest?” So they could get examples of what we wanted. Or they referred us to their pinterest accounts. It’s…ubiquitous, is the word I’m looking for here. As common as green jello and geneology (which are also passions of Mormon kind).

      • Will S.

        September 15, 2016 at 1:49 pm


  2. feeriker

    September 15, 2016 at 1:39 pm

    Well, dispatch can’t access kiddie porn. Besides, they gotta prove that they’re not knuckle-dragging high school dropout bullies with IQs lower than their nightsticks who don’t know how to use technology.

    (You’ve probably guessed by now that I don’t hold cops in very high esteem).

  3. ✓ᵀʳᵘᵐᵖ ˢᵘᵖᵖᵒʳᵗᵉʳ

    September 15, 2016 at 1:59 pm

    “… laptop computer. Officers use this computer to access a number of databases, to fill out paperwork and record witness statements while they’re still at the scene. The computer can also be used to upload digital photos they’ve taken of crime scenes. Some departments utilize wireless technology, so officers can check license plate numbers or suspect IDs against a database of stolen cars or outstanding warrants. They can even get a suspect’s criminal record and photograph on screen right in front of them, without having to relay information through a dispatcher.”

    In practice, cops access a lot of porn on the puters at the office. I don’t know about the laptops in the cruisers.

    • Will S.

      September 16, 2016 at 2:26 am

      But what’s to stop them from using it while they’re driving?

      And what was wrong with the old system, before we had laptops, of dealing with stuff while back at the office?

      Just because we have technology, means we must needs have everything made as high-tech and convenient as possible?

      Not asking you, so much as rhetorically, thinking out loud. No doubt cops look at porn in their office, because after all, who’s monitoring them? 😉

      Who watches the watchmen? 🙂

      • ✓ᵀʳᵘᵐᵖ ˢᵘᵖᵖᵒʳᵗᵉʳ

        September 16, 2016 at 3:29 pm

        Well, my wife was watching them, while she works for the city IT, she also did some maintenance on the police department’s networks for a time.

        Seems to me that the laptops would be handy for cops. I mean, if they get a call, it’d be good to know what the object of their attention looks like, and what kind of background he might have, just to name a couple of advantages.

      • Will S.

        September 16, 2016 at 10:38 pm

        I agree, but why can’t they be emailed those pics to their phones, then look at them after they stop the car – or pull them up on a laptop NOT mounted to their very dashboards?

  4. an observer

    September 15, 2016 at 5:39 pm


    Couple of things. The laptop can run tags, check licence status and conditions, search for active warrants, highlight alerts (drugs, firearms, domestic violence orders, communicable diseases Etc).

    Yes, as we know most of these recorded issues are bogus, victimless, non-criminal matters, that’s how the justice industry survives by partnering with govt to keep the sheep taxed, docile and oblivious.

    Why have it? Apart from the all too common uses cited above, it cuts out the middleman. This increased responsiveness is an issue, but recall the comms officer is normally a civvy. No amount of training of even the most statist-worshipping dude off the street will give them that typically jaundiced police attitude towards the citizenry. So a cop using it will see and emphasise things the rest of us wouldn’t.

    Hope that helps.

    • Will S.

      September 16, 2016 at 2:27 am

      No doubt it does indeed help make state tyranny operate more efficiently and smoothly, so that the wheels of injustice turn all the faster. 😉

  5. Elspeth

    September 15, 2016 at 5:39 pm

    I found that strange as well. Seems like an unnecessary and dangerous distraction.

    • Will S.

      September 16, 2016 at 2:29 am

      I think it is, Elspeth. I don’t see why anything they need, can’t be told / shown to them after they get back, and in the meantime, someone not driving can look up whatever they need to know, maybe email pics of suspects or missing children, etc. to their cellphones, so when they stop to get out, they can then take a look. No need for laptops.

  6. Peter Blood

    September 15, 2016 at 6:56 pm

    Why not? Police can multitask, IT’S THE CURRENT YEAR, BIGOTS!

    • Will S.

      September 16, 2016 at 2:29 am

      LOL, exactly! 🙂

  7. OKRickety

    September 15, 2016 at 8:28 pm

    I’m not privy to the claimed reasons for laptops in police cruisers, but I would think it would be advantageous in some situations. For example, a minor is reported missing and the laptop enables the officers to see a photo of the minor and other relevant information.

    Also, presuming communications between dispatch and cruisers is primarily done by radio, I would think written information would be a better form of communication eliminating possible misunderstanding of information.

    However, I would think the laptop internet access would be limited to specific sites, and use of USB drives and CD/DVD drives would be audited to prevent watching movies, etc.

    Does the benefit outweigh the advantages? I don’t know, but I am not going to presume negatively.

    • Will S.

      September 16, 2016 at 2:32 am

      But dispatch could email such pics to their phones, so they could check once parked, and moving towards a scene. I think radio and/or cellphone technology today make communications far more clear than ’70s CB / walkie-talkie technology, so little misunderstanding should occur.

      I just see too much potential for abuse.

      Now, if they agreed to have a camera behind them, as well as dashcams and mounted cameras on their hats / clothing, with the camera behind them monitoring what’s on their laptop screens, with civilians monitoring all the cameras, I could then find it acceptable. Someone has to watch the watchmen, after all.

      • feeriker

        September 16, 2016 at 12:55 pm

        Now, if they agreed to have a camera behind them, as well as dashcams and mounted cameras on their hats / clothing, with the camera behind them monitoring what’s on their laptop screens, with civilians monitoring all the cameras, I could then find it acceptable. Someone has to watch the watchmen, after all.

        I’ve long been an advocate of abolishing government police forces. Since that’s not gonna happen at any point in the foreseeable future, they should be scrutinized and held accountable at ALL times while on duty. Dashcams, vestcams, and various other audiovisual devices should track their every move, word, and deed, devices that should be under INDEPENDENT CIVILIAN control (i.e., no opportunity for cops to turn off or “mysteriously ‘lose'” audiovisual evidence).

        Also, do away with “qualified immunity,” and in cases where a cop is convicted of a crime or malfeasance of position resulting in the award of civil damages to a citizen victim, make the rogue cop PERSONALLY liable (acting outside the scope of one’s official duties should not subject already beleaguered tax victims and their borderline insolvent municiple insurers to additional financial burdens).

      • Will S.

        September 16, 2016 at 10:40 pm

        Hear, hear! Agree completely!

  8. Keoni Galt

    September 17, 2016 at 12:11 am

    “Just because we have technology, means we must needs have everything made as high-tech and convenient as possible?”

    You missed the biggest reason…$$$. Cui bono.

    Some corporate vendor received a rather large purchase order funded by tax payer funds to equip each car with a laptop. It is a virtual certainty that the computers for each car were probably sold at a higher price to the Department than a similar model with the same hardware sold in the stores for civilians. What do the Department acquisition officers care, it’s not there own money they spend on outfitting each officer with a state of the art laptop!

    In addition, some paper pushing bureaucrat in the IT branch of the police department probably received some kind of Mayoral certificate of excellence and a bonus for “modernizing” the police force and enabling more efficient ‘law enforcement practices’ or something.

    And the Department probably also received matching federal funds to upgrade “law enforcement capabilities through technology,” and those federal funds were budgeted for in the previous fiscal years omnibus legislation…inserted by some politician or Political Action Committee that received campaign $upport from some lobbying firm working on behalf of the corporate vendor’s parent company that manufactures the laptops….

    But even before all that occurred, some City Council members received an all expenses paid (council travel budget) first class trips at 5 star accommodations in some far away Metropolis to attend a “law enforcement technology convention” to “research” and “audit” how the police departments in other Cities “use the latest technology to improve law enforcement in the community.” Said council members will then return home and recommend that their home city police department needs to have said technology that they saw demonstrated at the convention.

    And then later on, when that City Council member runs for Mayor, or Governor, or some other higher office, they will run campaign commercials about how they were an integral part in ‘…improving safety in the community through improved law enforcement technology!” And of course, the lobbyists will donate a hefty campaign contribution to that politician, who will then make sure if/when he or she wins office, to issue another purchase order to the same vendor for some other Department or Office that needs a technological upgrade…..

    I wish I were exaggerating…except I’ve actually been to such conventions and seen this exact process take place when I worked for the State of Hawaii Government.

    This is our “system” of Corporatism and democracy in action. I’m sure it’s much the same sort of system in Canuckistan….

    • Will S.

      September 17, 2016 at 5:28 am

      I’m sure you’re correct, alas… Things like this are just as common up here as Stateside…

  9. ScareCrow

    September 26, 2016 at 4:12 pm

    Cops need to play Angry Birds too ya know!!!!

    OK, that is a joke. The laptops are used to determine if it’s OK to shoot somebody based on race. Those laptops are connected to a “database” of how many black people have been shot vs white people – source – BLM (Bureau of Land Management) – no wait – Black Live Matter..


  10. Will S.

    January 3, 2018 at 7:40 pm


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