As I begin my fifth year as Chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, I want to update you on the many projects and improvements that we have made and ones we are considering for the future. Although many of these are still in the conceptual design, or bidding phase, they represent the forward thinking and progressive movement of the Department. These projects illustrate the Department's efforts to embrace "best practices in policing," and encourage the men and women of the the LAPD to continue their outstanding work in making Los Angeles an even safer city.
Over the past year we have accomplished a lot to improve Department Operations, take crime fighting into the 21st Century, and improve officer safety. One successful and popular improvement has been the decision to use selected models of the Glock semi-automatic pistol as an optional duty weapon. I believe it's a superior weapon and recruits in the academy are now issued the 40-caliber Glock pistol. Seventy percent of law enforcement agencies nationwide use Glocks. Although initially there was a problem with the 45 caliber model not firing correctly, all 1,800 of the models purchased by LAPD officers have been retrofitted and are now working well in the field.
As reported a few months ago, Training Division has 25 new state-of-the-art Force Option Simulators. Each geographic Area now has one and the Tactics Unit has trained at least one Divisional Training Coordinator in each of the 19 geographic Areas and four Traffic Divisions. Traffic Division personnel will be able to use the simulators at the geographic Areas. This is an excellent example of the Department's move toward a more decentralized approach to training by providing opportunities at the officer's assigned Area or Division rather than at just two or three facilities across the City.
On the issue of the new LAPD flashlight, after extensive field testing of prototypes, a vendor was selected and is currently working to mass-produce the individual components for assembly. The first delivery of approximately 4,300 flashlights is expected in December. Training Division is currently working on a distribution plan to get these new flashlights in the hands of all LAPD officers and recruits.
In August, the Police Commission approved the Department's request to move forward with the puchase of new X26 TASER's for field and Detective personnel. This new TASER model is 60 percent smaller and lighter than the model currently in use by the Department. It can easily be worn on the belt. Having this tool readily available for use will help reduce injuries to both officers and suspects. The Department is currently working on funding for the TASER's while Training Division is moving ahead with plans for training and distribution.
Regarding the revised Vehicle Pursuit Policy and the use of the Pursuit Intervention Techniques or PIT maneuver, as of late September, more than 2,200 officers from all 19 geographic Areas and four Traffic Divisions have been trained. Training Division personnel are working with Bureau Training Coordinators to ensure that all officers assigned to patrol are trained on the PIT maneuver by this time next year. Also relevant to the Vehicle Pursuit Policy, a large number of officers assigned to patrol or traffic functions have been trained in the deployment of the "Stop Stick" tire deflation device. From May 2005 through August 2006, there have heen 20 successfully implemented PIT maneuvers that have stopped potentially dangerous pursuit situations before becoming a threat to the public. Also during that time frame there have been eight successful deployments of the "Stop Stick."
On the issue of In-Car Digital Video, the City Council has given the Department the go ahead to install the system in all patrol vehicles in South Bureau. We hope to select a vendor by the end of this year, and have all South Bureau patrol vehicles equipped by the end of fiscal year June 2007. Ultimately, and depending on funding, we anticipate outfitting patrol vehicles in each geographic Bureau at a rate of one Bureau per year. In-Car Digital Video ensures transparency, accountability, and officer integrity, and will provide concrete evidence for officers being investigated on allegations of misconduct, but more importantly aid in the investigation of criminal activity.
Another technology project approved by the City Council is the automatic License Plate Recognition System. Money has been set aside to outfit one patrol vehicle per geographic Area. The system has the ability to scan, recognize, and process the license plate numbers of several hundred cars in a manner of seconds.
Technology is truly the key to increasing the Department's effectiveness as we continue to fight and reduce crime with limited resources. Several pilot programs are in the works relating to increasing technology available in patrol vehicles, including the "Star Chase" electronic tracking system. This pursuit management tool consists of a projectile launched from a patrol vehicle-mounted device. The projectile adheres to the suspect vehicle, enabling police officers to monitor its location through a global positioning system receiver, often reducing the need for a high-speed pursuit.
Yet another technology pilot project currently being tested in Southeast Area is video downlink. The system will connect patrol vehicles to real-time video being recorded from surveillance cameras from around the area. This gives patrol officers situational awareness, providing them with more information on which to base their decisions. And in both Rampart and Southeast Area, officers are testing facial-recognition technology. This programs works digitally capturing and analyzing facial images for comparison and identification.
As I stated earlier, these projects were initiated to improve and position the Department as leaders in the use of cutting edge technological advancements. When combined with the will and determination of the men and women of this Department, we will have the tools needed to continue to reduce crime. Let's face it, with too few cops, we need cutting edge technology to give us an edge on the criminals so that one day we will achieve our goal of making Los Angeles the safest large city in America.