Zachary police plan to buy electronic ticket-writing devices to speed process, make it safer

The Zachary Police Department is planning to buy electronic ticket-writing devices that leaders say will make it faster and safer for officers to issue traffic citations.

The department wants to buy 10 GISMO devices from 365Labs, a Baton Rouge information technology firm. The City Council agreed at its meeting Tuesday to let Mayor David Amrhein sign a contract with the firm to buy the devices and cloud data storage.

The GISMO devices, which resemble a smartphone, allow officers to scan a bar code on a driver’s license to quickly see information about the person they’ve pulled over. Much of the ticket is then automatically filled out.

Officers can tap buttons on the GISMO screen to add a list of the relevant traffic violations to citations, and they can print copies for drivers using a mobile printer that connects to the device.

The East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office and other agencies in Louisiana are already using the devices, 365Labs CEO Mohit Vij told the City Council.

In addition to making the ticket-writing process faster, there are potential safety benefits, Vij said.

“If the person is a felon, if the person has a warrant against them,” that information will pop up on the screen, Vij said. “The police officer can be prepared.”

Currently, officers sometimes have to wait significant amounts of time before dispatchers can get back with them with information about the drivers they’ve pulled over.

Assistant Police Chief Darryl Lawrence recounted an incident when he radioed for information about a driver, and the dispatcher couldn’t immediately find the person’s record.

“The next thing you know, me and another guy are on the side of the road fighting with somebody because we didn’t get the information,” Lawrence said.

The GISMOs would “alleviate that problem,” he said. “Me knowing that from the beginning, I would handle that call totally different.”

The devices also streamline administrative processes associated with tickets, Vij said. With paper tickets, someone has to manually enter the information into computer files at the police department, courts and other places, he said, which takes up a lot of time.

“The court will be really happy because they won’t have to read the handwriting,” Lawrence added, prompting a few laughs.

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