Warren Harrison, Professor
Ph.D., Oregon State University, 1985
Department of Computer Science
After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Warren Harrison, who had always had an interest in law enforcement, thought of ways he could utilize his software and computer knowledge to help police. Today he has a dual career: professor of computer science and reserve deputy with the Clackamas County Sheriff's Department.
"Being a professor and working the road are like night and day," he says. "I go on patrol to get out of the Ivory Tower."
At Portland State, Harrison is developing speech interaction techniques that will enable police officers to use voice commands to run license plate records and criminal histories on their in-car computers. In stressful situations, this hands-free method could take the place of the current practice of using touchscreens and function keys, and would improve officer safety. It will also operate from outside the patrol car, giving officers added flexibility. His work is being funded by the National Institute of Justice.
"Police must be able to retrieve information in uncomfortable, rushed situations. I want to make it easier for them," he says.
Harrison also is involved with digital forensics: extracting information from cell phones, hard drives, and other devices that can be used as evidence in criminal cases. Both projects have potential uses among every law enforcement agency in the country.