A computer system being tested by Aiken County Sheriff's Office could allow deputies to receive vital information in their patrol cars much faster.
The mobile data terminals are being installed in five patrol cars this month.
"We've looked for years at a way to update how we do incident reports and stuff like that," said Capt. Bobby Wilson, of the sheriff's support services division.
Currently, deputies have to call dispatchers to learn if someone is wanted on charges, and reports are being handwritten.
Laptops could change that. The computers will have access to the National Crime Information Center. They also have software enabling deputies to type and file reports from the field.
Capt. Wilson said the sheriff's department has eight laptops, but only five will be placed in patrol cars.
The other computers are being used by other departments. One is in the department's mobile command unit to be used for major disasters. Another laptop is in the dispatch room and the third is being used by the special operations team.
The sheriff's department would have to order another 56 laptops to have one in every patrol car, he said.
The computers are heavy-duty models that can survive being dropped off a roof, Capt. Wilson said.
The Aiken Department of Public Safety has laptops in its patrol cars, sheriff's department spokesman Lt. Michael Frank said, but they are not the reinforced computers.
Capt. Wilson said the new mobile computer system will have to be tweaked before it is at peak performance. An interface will need to be built so officers can check for arrest warrants in the sheriff's office.
Not all arrest warrants are entered into the NCIC, he said.
Officials already are looking at ways to fund an expansion of the computer program, Capt. Wilson said.
Reach Sandi Martin at (803) 648-1395, ext. 111, or firstname.lastname@example.org.