KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — With features like mobile Wi-Fi, body-worn camera and in-car computers, police cars have come a long way over the years.

The first police car made its debut as an electric wagon in Akron, Ohio in 1899. That was followed by the first installation of an in-car radio in 1928 in Detroit, Michigan. At the time, seemed pretty high-tech.

Fast forward 95 years and today’s cruisers are hi-tech, sleek, fast, and can do things that Andy and Barney could only dream about when patrolling the streets of Mayberry.

“There is a mobile Wi-Fi router inside that basically makes the vehicle become a mobile hotspot,” said Knoxville Police Department Technology Manager Julia Small. “They’ve got internet, they’ve got a connection to the city network, they’ve got access to all their records.”

“Each one of these vehicles is loaded with, what we call, automatic trigger activations for our body-worn cameras and our in-car camera systems,” Small said. “Additionally, there’s actually a Bluetooth component inside the network that if an officer pulls up on the scene. He opens his car door. Not only is it going to activate his body-worn camera. It’s going to activate the body-worn cameras of all the officers within Bluetooth range of that vehicle.”

These are just a few of the many functions today’s cruisers can perform that make an officer’s life much easier.

“There is nothing we could want that we don’t have,” says KPD officer Lori Banks. “It gives us everything we could need to perform our job to the best of our abilities.”

Banks, a 21-year veteran of KPD, remembers a time when having a computer in her cruiser was just a dream.

“When I first started, we didn’t have the computers. I had a dry-erase board. So, when dispatch gave you the call, I would just write it down,” she explained.

It’s a far cry from today’s in-car systems.

“When someone calls 9-1-1. Every word they say is put onto our screen,” Banks said.

More Behind the Badge

“This is a mobile office,” Small added. “An officer has every tool that they need to do their job from the front seat of this vehicle.”

The end goal is to help officers do their job quickly and with as little distraction as possible. That’s one of the keys this hi-tech office on wheels plays to ensure officers can do their job and come home safely at the end of the day.