Police technology

That they’ve started releasing weekly podcasts on their work (haha, and you thought you were in trouble). Visit the page here and get access to the current shows. The archives work in some instances, not in others.

It’s somewhat interesting, as they talk about the “big news” of the week and revisit old cases. The best stuff, I think, is found in “FBI 1oo: A Closer Look.” FBI historian John Fox is being interviewed for a special radio series and sharing his perspectives on the agency’s past.


Cedar Rapids police Capt. Steve O’Konek didn’t actually let me drive the Avenger, the bullet-stopping, Hulkish armored tactical vehicle that the police department is borrowing. Which is probably a good thing. But at least I got to have my picture taken in it. If they had only let me wear some SWAT gear and pose with an AR-15 semiautomatic…

Seriously, though, photographer Cliff Jette and I took a spin in the thing with O’Konek at wheel, and I have to say it’s something that would be great to have if there is a use for it here, which is debatable. Anyway, the thing rides like a diesel truck and is just as easy to handle. O’Konek was able to back it into a parking space with only one hand on the wheel. It could easily run over small obstacles and get up to where it could rescue victims. And it could comfortably fit about half a police SWAT team inside it.

It left us this week. Sad. We never got to run over anything in it, either.

Well, actually, they will appear on the police department’s Web site at 10 a.m. Friday, but you get my drift.

What a cool thing for the city to do. Really! It gives residents the opportunity to see what’s going on in their neighborhoods just an hour or so after it happens. You are supposed to be able to search the calls for service in any location for the last 30 days by address, date, or type of call. That can be useful for landlords who should be keeping an eye on their tenants…ahem. It can also be useful for people like me who are insatiably curious (and even sometimes nosy).

Sgt. Cristy Hamblin said the system has been about 6 months in the making. Police are always getting calls from people wondering what’s happening crimewise in a neighborhood they’d like to move to, she said, or one in which they already live. This is one way for them to get the information they need themselves.

So have at it, folks! Isn’t the free exchange of important information wonderful?