A '48' is Atlantic City police radio code for "expedite" - or hurry. And that sense of urgency is desperately needed regarding a long-planned - and even longer-talked-about - technological upgrade for the city's Police Department.

This has taken far too long.

Certainly, the good news is that the Atlantic City Police Department is moving closer to updating its antiquated technology.

Earlier this month, city and police officials visited East Orange, which has cut crime by 70 percent after installing a proprietary Web-based system of cameras and global positioning tracking equipment. The system was developed by Jose Cordero, who served 30 years in law enforcement, mostly with the New York City Police Department. The system, which is being used in Camden too, also includes a virtual community watch that allows people to sign on with user names and share information.

It all certainly sounds impressive. The East Orange command center for the system is manned by three officers and a supervisor who can monitor the city through the cameras and track patrol-car locations, calls for service and response times, among other things.

Crime has dropped every year since East Orange installed the system. At one time the Essex County city of 70,000 had 25 murders a year. Last year, the city had five murders - three of them related to domestic incidents.

In Atlantic City, which had 18 homicides in 2012 and one fatal police shooting, the Police Department has long been stymied by inadequate and outdated computer and record-keeping technology. And while significant advances have been made recently linking surveillance cameras around the city and offering a Tip411 system allowing people to provide information to police anonymously, the department remains woefully behind the times.

The Cordero system would certainly be an improvement, and city officials now say they are fast-tracking the procurement of advanced technology. But goodness - the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority gave the city $3.5 million in September 2011 for updated police technology, and only $17,500, for the Tip411 system, has been spent.

The system in use in East Orange will cost much more, but the ACPD desperately needs the upgrade.

And a word of caution: Simply buying the system is not enough. It will have to be maintained.

Years ago, the city had Boardwalk cameras that quickly succumbed to the harsh coastal environment. And the Dec. 18 fatal police shooting at Stanley Holmes Village was not recorded because the housing complex's cameras were down. One benefit of the system in East Orange is that police are automatically notified when a camera ceases to operate, and in many cases it can be repaired remotely.

How 21st century.


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