Officers of the Alta Police Department obtained four refurbished laptop computers from a Cedar Rapids donation center last week, and the new technology will help the department maintain accident logs, shift logs and have an up-to-date database.
The department obtained the computers at no cost from the Rockwell Educational Access to Computer Technology (REACT) Center in Cedar Rapids, a nonprofit organization which refurbishes recycled computers and then donates them to schools and other nonprofit associations.
Established in 1999 by Rockwell Collins, an advanced communication and aviation electronics headquartered in Cedar Rapids, the REACT Center is geared toward helping public and parochial schools, but also provides computers to groups such as police departments and fire departments.
Alta Police Chief Tom Messerole said the new computers will be a huge asset to his department in the future, and the no-cost nature of the laptops made the deal a positive in both technological and financial terms.
"This is something that really helps a department as small as ours," Messerole said, "because the only thing that it cost to get these was the cost of gas to drive to Cedar Rapids. A department our size isn't able to really put in the grants for these items like larger departments can, so this was a great way for us to update our technology effectively and efficiently."
The four computers are IBM ThinkPad laptops which are set up with 40 megabytes memory, one gigabyte hard drive space and 133 megahertz clock speed, and have full internet access.
Software will allow Messerole and his staff to maintain accident logs on the computers, install a database to allow them to quickly obtain information on criminal suspects, provide shift logs so officers just coming on duty can see what has happened over the past few hours and search the internet for information on different violent and non-violent criminal cases.
Due to the lack of a police secretary, Messerole and his staff have been spending a great deal of time writing down those accident logs and then transferring that paperwork at police department headquarters.
"This should help cut down the duplication of some of the stuff that we're doing right now," Messerole said. "This really is the wave of the future in police work, and these are going to allow us to do what we need to do for Alta."