The Miami-Dade Schools Police Department (MDSPD) was founded in 1957 to support Miami-Dade County Public Schools, the fourth-largest school system in the U.S. The MDSPD is one of only three full-service school police departments recognized by the state of Florida’s Department of Law Enforcement and is considered a leader in school policing. As such, its officers are armed, have full arrest powers and conduct their own uniformed crime reporting (UCR) to the state of Florida and the FBI.
According to the FBI, the U.S. averages more than 2 million juvenile arrests per year for primarily non-violent offenses. During the 2009-2010 school year, 85 percent of public schools reported that one or more crime incidents had taken place at school, amounting to an estimated 1.9 million crimes. This translates to 40 crimes per 1,000 public school students enrolled, according to the most recent data from the National Center for Education Statistics. MDSPD has jurisdiction over a vast geography of school board-owned and leased properties as well as 400 city schools that serve more than half a million students and staff. With more than 170 sworn officers, the department answers 4,500-5,500 calls per month, on average, ranging from theft and vandalism to more serious crimes such as assaults and even homicide.
Since 2011, MDSPD has relied on Panasonic Toughbook mobile computers to support the communication and mobility requirements of its officers in the field. Before making the switch, Capt. Joseph Bevilacqua, a 15-year veteran of the Miami-Dade Schools Police Department noted that their commercial laptops were having problems with keyboards and hinges breaking due to wear and tear over the course of regular 16-hour work days. They needed something more durable.
MDSPD turned to Panasonic’s business solutions to test out the line of Toughbook computers. The unmatched ruggedness of the Toughbook 31 mobile computer can survive drops of up to six feet, provides protection from water and dust, and features a magnesium alloy case and shock-mounted hard drive – perfect for a large mobile unit such as the MDSPD. Since the Toughbook has been such a successful business solution for the department, they are currently evaluating the new Toughpad FZ-G1 tablet, which would help support new hires and anticipated growth planned throughout 2014.
“We want to provide our officers with the latest technology to assist them with day-to-day operations. We’re really happy with where Panasonic is going with the Toughpad and like the idea that we could dock the tablet and run a separate wireless or Bluetooth keyboard to get even more mobility and flexibility,” said Capt. Bevilacqua. The Toughpad line offers customers the same mix of ruggedness, performance and reliability but in a lighter, smaller form factor.
For the Miami-Dade Schools Police Department, mobility and reliability aren’t simply a business advantage, they are safety imperatives. By deploying Toughbook’s mobile computing solutions, the department has allowed its officers to stay reliably connected, informed and given them the essential tools they need to do their jobs more effectively.
Read the full case study here to learn more about the Miami-Dade Schools Police Department and their growing use of mobile computing technology.