GPS units up and running in borough police cars

PUNXSUTAWNEY — You may remember the old television series from the 1960s “Car 54 Where are You?," a comedy about two New York City police officers Gunther Toody and Frances Muldoon, who were always getting lost.

What the dispatchers back then needed was Global Positioning System (GPS) units, which weren't invented as of yet, to locate the
wayward officers.

Punxsutawney Borough Police Chief Tom Fedigan announced at this week’s Public Safety meeting that the GPS units purchased by the borough have been installed in all of the borough's police vehicles.

"The purpose of purchasing the units was to be able to monitor where any borough police vehicle was located at any given time," Fedigan

Fedigan also said that when he first discussed purchasing units with the members of council, it was an officer safety issue.

Fedigan said if there's ever an instance when an officer can't be contacted on the radio or by cell phone, he'll be able to pull up the GPS map and determine the location of the vehicle that is being operated by the police officer.

"The technology has been available for quite some time, and many people own GPS units that they use in their own personal vehicles to be able to go from location one to location two," he said. "This is the opposite. It is used to locate a vehicle not find a destination.”

Fedigan said in law enforcement, many of the bigger cities have laptops in their police vehicles, which are equipped with GPS.

"The borough went specifically with a company that installs the units directly into our vehicles," Fedigan said. He added that he can now log onto the website and determine the location of any of the borough's police vehicles.

Fedigan said the ultimate goal is to get the system personalized so department dispatchers can log on as well and pull up the map to find the location of a police car in the borough.

"The system allows me to access historical data, which permits me to look back a certain amount of days and determine locations of where a particular car might have been located at a certain time," he said.

Fedigan said that until the company develops his request to personalize the system, he is the only person with access to the GPS data.

He said his department officers feel a little safer now, because in case of an emergency, they can be located — which could just save their lives some day.

Fedigan also said the GPS units can be reinstalled in a new police vehicle when an old vehicle is taken out of service.