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LAPD officers test new vehicle technology

March 8, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
LAPD officers are putting new vehicle technology to the test out in the field. The department is hoping the new equipment will give officers extra elbow room in their patrol cars.

If you buy a new Dodge Charger, one of the available features is a large 8.4-inch touch screen. It controls many of the car's functions to free up space on the dash.

The LAPD is field testing some Dodge Chargers that have an even larger 12.1-inch touch screen, and it's designed to free up space too.

"As much room as we can clear up for the officers makes them more comfortable for that 12-hour day," said Officer Steve Dolan.

The upgrade is an experiment, carried out by Chrysler's engineers. There's no extra charge to the city, and Chrysler, in turn, gets development data.

"We've only gotten positive response from the officers in the field. They love the touch screen, they love cleaning up the cockpit, they're more comfortable. Guys are just clamoring to get these vehicles," said Dolan.

Years ago, the LAPD officers portrayed on the television series "Adam-12" had only the basics to deal with. Today's officers have much more equipment, which takes up much more space inside the car. The Chrysler Uconnect system even integrates high-tech things like license plate recognition and infrared cameras.

There was a big change recently in the world of law enforcement vehicles. Ford discontinued its Crown Victoria, the last big, traditional police car. And as police agencies move forward with newer vehicles, interior space is going to be an issue.

All the police cars on the market today are a bit smaller inside, including the Charger. Same goes for the Chevy Caprice, and Ford's own replacement for the Crown Vic, the Taurus-based Police Interceptor.

Ford is offering a bit of technology too, adapting its SYNC system for police duty, and including steering wheel controls for important functions.

But the new touch screen Charger provides an interior with more space for officers. Someday, every LAPD patrol car could be equipped this way.

"We're in these cars for 12 hours a day, driving sometimes 200 miles a day, for each pair of officers. That's a lot of miles. So anything to make them better, safer, more comfortable is great," said Dolan.


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