The local division of Westinghouse Electric Corp. is moving to adapt some of the sophisticated electronic equipment used in the Persian Gulf war last year to aid domestic police departments in their war against burglars, drug dealers, kidnappers and car thieves.
The company filled a hangar at its plant near Baltimore-Washington International Airport yesterday with about a dozen systems it developed to help officers do their job with less risk to their lives.
The display attracted police officials from 15 states, who marveled at the advanced technology that included a "smart patrol car" armed with a video camera. The camera would be used to transmit live coverage back to a control center when an officer pulled a vehicle over.
Also on display was a twin-engine plane equipped with radar from an F-16 fighter and infrared equipment tucked into its nose that could be used against drug traffickers on the highway, in the air or on the water.
Westinghouse engineers also touted another radar system that can "see" through brick walls to help find burglars or pinpoint hostages, as well as an electronic scanner that can spot a stolen car by reading tag numbers of vehicles zipping by.
The same system could be used to monitor bank robberies or instantly supply a photo of a missing child.
"I see this as a fantastic advancement for law enforcement," said Lt. Col. R. H. "Sonny" Hayman, chief of field operations for the Maryland State Police. "I would hope we could find enough money in the state coffer to buy some of this equipment."
Colonel Hayman and others said their interest in the new technology was heightened by the slaying two years ago of state trooper Ted Wolf, who was killed after pulling over a car on Interstate 95 near Route 175.
Richard A. Linder, president of the Westinghouse Electronic Systems division, promoted the "smart car." "What would have happened on 95 that night if people knew that everything was being recorded in real time?" he asked, and being transmitted to a control center.
Robert P. Russell, Anne Arundel County police chief, said yesterday that his department will begin testing the "smart car" concept on a number of its vehicles this year.
Westinghouse executives see the company's new thrust into the law enforcement market as a major move in its diversification away from defense contracts.
Edward N. Silcott, general manager of Westinghouse's Commercial Systems division, said he expects sales to law enforcement agencieds to reach $300 million to $400 million annually within five years.