DERRY TOWNSHIP, Pa. (WHTM) – Speeding up traffic stops — a new technology allows local police to do just that, while also improving safety for both drivers and officers.
Derry Township is the first police department in the Midstate to get the new software. It’s called TraCS, and it aims to speed up the process of writing a citation.
It makes for very different shifts inside the township’s police cruisers.
“Each traffic citation was hand-written” before the new software, said Officer Rian Bell, an eight-year veteran of the department. “It would be, bring the documents the driver provides back to the vehicle and hand-copy the information.”
Now when he fires up the siren, Bell leaves the notepad behind.
It starts the same, with license and registration. But now, instead of filling out a citation by hand, all it takes is a scan, and the computer fills in the info using PennDOT records.
Bell walked through the process: the handheld scanner, kept in the car, looks like one you’d find at a supermarket, and it scans the barcodes on a driver’s license and registration. Just like that, a laptop installed in the cruiser auto-populates (fills out) the citation form.
The officer is then prompted to fill out the offense and other pertinent information, and then the computer prints a citation from a small printer in the car.
“Very simple,” Bell said.
“There were a lot of errors that were found in crash reports and citations,” said Sgt. Craig Polen, the TraCS unit supervisor for the Pennsylvania State Police. “Guys were missing blocks, hard to read citations.”
PSP has used the system for a couple years now. They’re licensed to give it to local departments — for free — through a grant program run by the North Central Highway Safety Network, Polen said.
So far, 25 departments are using the e-filing system, but 119 are interested, he added.
Polen estimated it cuts down citation time from 15 minutes to 5 or 10.
“So officers are off the side of the road a lot quicker,” he said.
That’s a safety thing.
“It seems to be a never-ending problem with the texting, so the sooner we can get the violator vehicle and the police vehicle off the side of the road the better,” said Derry Twp. Police Chief Patrick M. O’Rourke, Sr.
O’Rourke said it actually saves the township money, because there’s less paperwork. That also means instead of writing reports at the office, officers can spend more time on the street.
As with any new technology system, officers said there are going to be some bumps along the way, but they hope that as they start to use it more, they start to work out some of those kinks.