(TNS) — Citing accountability and safety, the Massachusetts State Police on Thursday announced its new Automated Vehicle Locator system.
The system, known as AVL, will be in about 2,900 state police vehicles – pretty much all of them except for some undercover vehicles that, if discovered, could undermine a trooper's safety, State Police Col. Christopher Mason said during a demonstration of the system at the state police headquarters on Worcester Road (Rte. 9).
This is the second version of the AVL that the state has used. It initially implemented the system in May 2018 in wake of the state police overtime scandal. The initial system was installed in about 1,000 cruisers.
However, Mason said, that was limited to vehicles that had laptops, and they could be removed from the cruiser.
The new system is hardwired into the vehicles, Mason said. This, he said, will allow supervisors to know if troopers are where they're supposed to be and where they said they were for the amount of time they said they were there.
"I recognize that accountability is one of the cornerstones of this project and one of the things that the public has rightly demanded of the Massachusetts State Police," Mason said.
"We'll now have the ability to track historical time and attendance, so we'll be able to utilize this on a weekly, on a daily, on a monthly, on a quarterly basis to conduct audits to validate that troopers are where they're supposed to be," he added.
However, it will also improve the service provided by the state police, as well as safety for troopers, he said.
Dispatchers observe large digital maps that provide real-time locations for each vehicle. Mason said if there is an emergency somewhere, such as in Framingham District Court, the dispatcher can know instantly who is closest to send.
"They can quickly look at the screen and identify where the court is, where the assets are in relationship to the court, and deploy assets in a more timely fashion," Mason said.
It could also help if a trooper is in a situation outside of their cruiser and their radio breaks or stops working for another reason. State police will know where the cruiser is located even if they can't talk to the officer and send other troopers to assist.
Currently, only troopers with the rank of major or higher have access to the system. But eventually, troopers on the road will have access to the map so they know who is near them if they need backup.
The hardware cost the state $255,000 and it will cost $50,000 each month to monitor. Data collected will be stored indefinitely, Mason said.
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