Is the Houston Police Department stuck in the '90s? Until recently, the law enforcement agency was using prehistoric VHS technology in its DWI procedures.
But with a grant of just over $470,000 from the office of Harris County District Attorney Pat Lykos, four patrol stations have been outfitted with updated equipment and dedicated rooms for more efficient processing.
On Wednesday, the HPD revealed the Midwest Patrol Station DWI processing center, a small room for field sobriety and breathalyzer testing that was recently converted from an open area in the jail.
Whereas the previous intake method involved long drives, lengthy waits and outdated technology, the new one is fast, simple and digital.
"Drunk and drugged drivers menace the public. They endanger, they maim and they kill. They cause carnage on our roadways, and we have declared war on them," said Lykos at the unveiling. She considers the technology improvements a proactive measure for combatting the problem.
Whereas the previous intake method involved long drives, lengthy waits and outdated technology, the new one is fast, simple and digital. Beyond catching intoxication when it's still in the accused's bloodstream, it also shortens the judicial process, frees up space in county jails and gets officers back on the streets in record time.
Accused offenders pass through the booking room — outfitted with the predictable dim florescent lighting, hard benches and pay phone banks — and into the DWI processing center, a small room painted almost the same shade of blue as the HPD uniform.
Two video cameras are mounted inside of the chamber to catch every wobble and sway of the accused offender. Lines on the tiled floor and step-by-step instructions posted on the wall ensure process standardization, a cabinet holds an Intoxilyzer 5000 for breath testing and videos of each intake are automatically uploaded via secure data connection to the HPD servers.
Westside, North and Northeast Patrol Stations have new DWI processing centers, and Central and Southeast facilities (the two locations that were previously overloaded with DWI cases) have seen similar system upgrades.