PORTLAND – Want to nab a crook?

There’s an app for that.

A software company that designed the records system shared by the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office, Portland police and the Cumberland County District Attorney’s Office has designed a way to access that reservoir of information from Internet-enabled smartphones.

Though no local department is using it yet, police say the capability has started showing up on television programs like “NCIS” and the new “Hawaii 5-0.”

Information technology staff at the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office have been exploring the product, called Spillman Touch.

The application is designed to allow an officer to call up information about suspects, including photographs, criminal records and bail conditions, on a hand-held mobile device, said the sheriff’s network administrator, Aaron Gilpatrick. Officers also could view dispatch information and call up or transmit pictures of recovered merchandise.

Spillman Technologies is a Utah-based company that produces computer-aided dispatch, database management and other software for public safety agencies in 36 states.

County officials, several of whom use the iPod Touch, were told during an online presentation Friday that the first version of the product should be available sometime next spring.

The cost of the application, which will only be available to public safety workers using the company’s database, has not been determined.

Officers now regularly use computers in their cruisers, helping them communicate and giving them access to information that would have been difficult or impossible to get over the radio.

That includes e-mail and department activity logs passed down from shift to shift.

The cell phone application would be most helpful when a cruiser computer is not available, said John Joy, director of information technology for the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office.

“It’s kind of ideal for foot patrols, bike patrols, motorcycle cops,” Joy said. It could also be a boon to detectives, who could access information immediately during on-site interviews.

“It fills that void for people who can’t have a computer nearby,” Joy said.

The technology has its limitation, especially in the county’s rural areas where high-speed cellular coverage is spotty.

It’s more likely to be effective in an urban setting like Portland.

Portland Police Chief James Craig, who carries a Droid smartphone, said the software has great potential for officers, but outfitting each with smartphones that are equipped with the application is an expense the department can’t now cover.

“It’s definitely not cheap,” he said. “If we could get maybe a grant to fund it, I think it would be a great application.”

“If you start asking officers to download those applications on their personal phone, then you get into who pays for the phone,” Craig said.

Craig said technology is getting better all the time. Hand-held products are now for sale that can read someone’s fingerprints in the field instantly, transmit the image to a database and alert the officer if the person is wanted or a suspect in a case.

“I love technology,” Craig said. “I think that’s the wave of the future in police work.”

Staff Writer David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

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