Welcome back to our eCitation guide for your modern patrol car. As we discussed in Part 1, there isn’t one clear-cut answer to the question of what equipment a patrol car needs. Why? Because each agency is unique, with differing preferences and needs. What all agencies have in common is the need to best serve & protect their community.
This three-part series is designed to provide guidance about the main components needed for a patrol car to complete electronic citations, and then you can make the decisions from there. If you’d like more information about specific equipment or would like some assistance figuring out what would work best in your patrol car environment, our Law E team is happy to help. Our contact information is included at the end of this blog.
Now onto Part 2, focused on the in-car computer and mount. (Return to Part 1 here to read about driver’s license scanners)
The In-Car Computer & Mounting System
A laptop computer or mobile tablet provides the display for your eCitation software. It may be tempting to cut costs by purchasing consumer-grade devices, but these computers aren’t built to last in your patrol car environment. Semi-rugged and rugged laptops and tablets, on the other hand, are built to withstand vibration, movement, and rough treatment that goes hand-in-hand with law enforcement. A resilient device will have a longer lifespan and favorable total cost of ownership.
The choice between a rugged tablet and laptop depends on user preference. It often comes down to whether you’d like to be able to remove your device from the patrol vehicle for other purposes. Some agencies, for instance, use tablets to snap quick photos with the built-in camera. Should you choose to go the tablet route, however, keep in mind that not everyone is comfortable using a touchscreen. A rugged keyboard installed in the patrol vehicle can bridge the gap between tablet and laptop, should the need arise, but is mounted separately from the tablet and would not be removed by the user when on the go.
Don’t forget to keep your device charged and locked in tightly so that it’s well-protected and ready to use at a moment’s notice. A cradle or docking station will keep your device securely in place within the vehicle’s mounting system. A cradle is favorable to some due to its lower cost, but the tradeoff is that a cradle requires the user to unplug each piece of patrol car equipment individually when removing the computer from the vehicle – and then individually plugging each back in later. This might include your Driver’s License Scanner, in-car printer, etc. A cradle may or may not charge your device while it’s plugged in. The majority of agencies prefer the convenience of using a docking station that offers built-in port replication and power supply. This allows peripherals (such as printer, license plate reader, video camera and driver’s license scanner) to be plugged into the dock, rather than the computer itself, so that the computer can be removed from the vehicle without unplugging everything else.
The docking station or cradle will keep your laptop or tablet securely in place within the vehicle’s mounting system. A mounting system contains a base, pole and motion device, all sold in one convenient package. Passenger side mounts are great for laptop computers, whereas dashboard mounts are preferable for tablet computers. Some mounting systems are designed with a specific vehicle make and model in mind, so be sure to check with a knowledge expert about the best mounting system for your vehicle (and what is compatible).
In-Car Computer & Rugged Tablet
Dell and Zebra offer dependable patrol vehicle laptops and tablets.
Rugged Keyboards (optional, but suggested with tablet purchase)
Havis and iKey offer rugged keyboards for the patrol vehicle. Contact us for what rugged keyboard options would work best with your other patrol vehicle equipment.
Cradles, Docking Stations and Mounts
Brother, Havis and LEM offer durable cradles, docking stations and mounts to keep your devices secure within the patrol vehicle.
Be sure to revisit our blog next week to read the next part of our series, which will focused on thermal printers.
Interested in more information on in-car computers & mounts? Call 585-383-0050 or email info@L-Tron.com.