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Chrysler’s Uconnect cleans up cruiser cabins

by Bill Cawthon on

The computer has become an indispensable tool for law enforcement officers. In-car laptops have replaced two-way radios for the transmission of sensitive information, such as crime-scene details and suspect identities. The computers have also allowed departments to automate some functions, such as license plate or warrant checks, that used to require the assistance of a dispatcher.

As useful as the computer is, it’s also a threat to officer safety and just one more item in an already crowded passenger compartment.

In the event of a collision, the laptop and support used in most patrol cars can cause serious injury, especially in jurisdictions with two-officer patrols, such as the Los Angeles Police Department.

When the LAPD wanted to unclutter their cruisers, engineers from Chrysler Group’s Uconnect brand were there to help with an innovative connectivity solution.

“We saw a clear opportunity to adapt our easy-to-use Uconnect interface for the benefit of police officers and, by extension, society at large,” says Marios Zenios, Vice President-Uconnect Systems and Services.

Uconnect’s 8.4-inch display screen wasn’t large enough to accommodate all the information required by law-enforcement applications. So, Chrysler Group teamed with Continental Engineering Services to develop a police-specific, high-resolution 12.1-inch screen capable of displaying data, graphics and video.

Input is handled via plug-in keyboard that can be stowed when the vehicle is in motion or unoccupied.

With a touch of a button, the display transitions to reveal controls for all important vehicle systems, such as climate control.

A concept version of the system will be in a Dodge Charger Pursuit at the 119th Annual International Association of Chiefs of Police Conference in San Diego, which begins Saturday, September 29 and runs through Wednesday, October 3.

Following the conference, Chrysler Group will put three fully-functioning systems on the road in a trio of Charger Pursuits. Chrysler engineers will accumulate test miles on one vehicle, while the other two will be deployed with the LAPD.

Other automakers have attempted to consolidate displays in a vehicle’s center stack, with mixed results.

Lt. Dan Gonzalez, who heads the LAPD’s tactical technology section, worked with Uconnect to develop the new display.

“The over-arching reason we’re involved in this is to provide a higher level of safety for the officer,” he says.

“From this project, we have created a less-confining vehicle cabin,” Gonzalez adds. “Increased safety and a better cabin experience is a ‘win-win.’”

Bill Cawthon grew up in the auto industry in the 1950s. His Dad worked for Chrysler and Bill spent a number of Saturdays down on the plant floor at Dodge Main in Hamtramck. Bill is also the U.S. market correspondent for, a British auto industry publication, and a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, which has named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the “SUV of Texas” several times and named the Ram 1500 as the “Truck of Texas” two years running.

Bill has owned five Plymouths (including the only 1962 “Texan”), one Dodge and one Chrysler and is still trying to figure out how to justify a Wrangler. He also has owned at least one of every 1:87 scale model of a Chrysler product. You can reach him directly at (206) 888-7324 or by using the form.

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