American History

P.D. tech boom


The dawn of 1969 saw cities investing in the latest in security improvements.

Kansas City, Mo., made headlines when it purchased…a computer.
“Our police force now has a computer,” Chief of Police Clarence M. Kelly beamed of the IBM/360 model 40. “We have been told that it is the most
advanced of its type in the nation.”

Kelly said the precinct’s computer was “to make the work of the patrolman
more effective and the protection of the public more thorough” – an important goal as Kansas City saw a 12.3 percent increase in crime two years earlier.
With the computer, the city said it would be able to keep electronic records of everything from stolen vehicles to lists of wanted persons, thus speeding the process of cross-referencing criminal activity.

While Kansas City law enforcement combated crime with a computer, counterparts in Charlotte, N.C., were increasingly turning to FM receivers to broadcast the city’s hotline on crime.

Known as “Operation Warn,” the city’s hotline system was established in 1968 for Charlotte merchants. If burgled, the merchant would call the hotline where a crime report would be written up by an officer and immediately taken to a dispatcher for broadcast to “special radio receivers” at other businesses. In minutes, all participating businesses would have a description of the burglar.

The Charlotte Police Department broadcast its first Operation Warn message May 31, 1968 to 24 merchants. For 1969, the police department hypothesized the program would grow to more than 300 merchants.

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What's American History?

It highlights the development of U.S. local and state government.


Erin Greer

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