Houma Police trade in laptops for iPads

HOUMA, LA (WVUE) - Apple iPads are helping Houma Police fight crime. Officers there like them so much, the entire department is planning to trade in their laptops.

Their squad cars may look high-tech, but soon the Houma Police Department will upgrade to a sleeker model.

Within the next few months, the entire police department should be operating on iPads.

Earlier this year, the Houma Police Department received dozens of iPads as part of a pilot program. Since then, they have come in handy for a number of things.

The iPad has dozens of apps for the officers to use - everything from a translation app to a camera to document crime scenes

"We had one camera on the shelf for all the officers to use. Now, all the officers with an iPad have their own cameras to be able to get on a crime scene to take photos. It gives them access to all of that," said Chief Todd Duplantis.

Officers can file paperwork from their cars and footage from security cameras is now at their fingertips.

"Businesses are allowing us to tap into their camera system so we can work with them regarding gas drive off, burglary, robbery and more," said Lt. Bobbie O'Bryan. "We have a camera for a hotel - this is where a lot of prostitution happens. The businesses are working with us to help make it safer in business areas as well as giving us the tools to respond out there before we even get out there."

As the area becomes more multi-cultural. There's an app for that too.

"Talk in it English 'how are you doing' and it translate it into whatever language the person you're trying to communicate with," explains Detective Keith Craft. "Whatever is comfortable for the person, we can switch it back and forth and ease that tension with the public by trying to speak to them in their own language."

A laptop loaded with all the needed software comes out to around $2,000 each. An iPad costs around $500.

"You're talking from $2,000 to $500. When you have 80 people, that's a huge about of money," said Chief Todd.

It's not just a money save, but a time saver too.

"Fewer officers [are] at the station doing paperwork. They're out in the community interacting with community," said O'Bryan.

Right now, the department has 33 iPads purchased though different grants. The money for the remaining 50 iPads needed is in the budget.

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