Indiana Tech Students Use Computers to Fight Crime

By Eric Olson

February 17, 2012 Updated Feb 17, 2012 at 2:32 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Indiana (Indiana's NewsCenter)-December third 2011…Fort Wayne police corner a robbery suspect in a Franklin Avenue home and begin negotiating for his surrender. On the scene the Crisis Response Vehicle, inside, hostage negotiators keeping track of every detail of the incident on a new, revolutionary computer program, developed by students…at Indiana Tech.

The computer program’s called ‘Emergency Services Communications for Crisis Response Teams’. It employs off-the-shelf software to create a timeline, a digital diary, of a hostage incident as well as information critical to police on the scene.

“Information like how the hostage taker is emotionally,” says Indiana Tech computer student Nathan Whetstone, “what state he’s in, he’s armed, he’s not armed, what has how many hostages he’s taken.”

Computer professor Julie Mansfield has overseen the project that Nate Whetstone and Ben Swygart created along with other students. Mansfield says the program systematizes record keeping as the incident unfolds, eliminating mistakes.

“They have a process that’s in place,” she says, “it doesn’t change from person to person so no matter what your role is you always have the same way of doing everything.”

“It brings that information together for us,” says Fort Wayne Police hostage negotiator John Bowers, “almost like tactics are for a SWAT team information for us is that main tactic. So when it flows well decisions work well.”

“Even Indianapolis doesn’t have a system quite like this in place and i thought that was pretty surprising,” says computer student Ben Swygart. “In some ways Fort Wayne really is on the cutting edge of the hostage negotiation.”

The students recently gave the software, free of charge, to 160 law enforcement agencies across the state of Indiana, many of which will be using it…streamlining police work, facilitating justice and no doubt saving lives, well beyond the borders of Your Country. This is Eric Olson reporting.

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