New Technologies that will Transform Law Enforcement | 10-8 Systems
Law enforcement agencies are increasingly embracing the advances in technology and using them to their advantage. Modern software systems are having a positive impact on the way law enforcement officers respond to and react at calls for service. This is especially prevalent at major incidents when nearly all levels of an organization are involved. The software used to integrate an agency’s computer-aided dispatching (CAD), records management system (RMS), and mobile technology, improves safety, increases productivity, and enhances efficiency.
Consider the following scenario: 911 calls begin to come in from a local high school. There are reports of an active assailant on campus and several people are injured. Of course, an immediate response is underway, but technology’s role in this type of incident has evolved. The advantages of CAD, RMS, and mobile devices are instantly clear as the first seconds of the reported attack come into the 911 center. The initial response, scene management, and aftermath activities all benefit from this combined software system.
Technology and the Initial Response
From the time the first 911 call is placed; the dispatcher's screen identifies the location of the caller. As would be expected, multiple calls confirm the address as the high school where the attack is underway. Cellular technology, GPS mapping systems, and CAD help identify one of the most important questions in an emergency; where is help needed?
As patrol units are notified of the incident and begin their emergency response, supervisors can use the automated vehicle locator (AVL) feature to know the precise location of each unit. As information about the suspect’s location becomes available, floorplans and maps of the campus can be accessed by those en route. Using mobile technology, patrol supervisors begin to formulate a tactical approach plan by incorporating the number and location of responding units, the last known location of the suspect, and the layout of the campus.
How Technology is Used in Incident Command
Early into the management of an event such as the scenario at hand, an incident commander (IC) is identified and a command post is established. Often, this person is one of the initial responding patrol supervisors and is operating from his or her mobile devices in their patrol car. Fortunately, with access to CAD and RMS, the advantages of this ad hoc command post can serve the needs of incident command well.
Eventually, the initial IC will be replaced with a higher ranking official. By using mobile technology as part of incident command, all units can easily identify the person in charge and the location of the command post. For extended events, changes in the IC assignment are also instantly made available. Additionally, all personnel given assignments or posts during an event are noted in CAD and visible to everyone involved. The two-way radio no longer needs to be tied up with unnecessary transmissions trying to determine who is assigned to what task or location. Instead, the radio is free for urgent communications.
As will happen in an incident of this magnitude, external agencies are likely to respond to assist. The use of the AgencyLink feature aids in the implementation of both unified command and personnel management. When these assisting departments have access to the primary agency’s CAD system, communication and organization are greatly enhanced. No longer are phone calls to dispatch or the command post necessary to determine how and where mutual-aid responders will be assigned. Staging and demobilization can take place through the CAD system by using AgencyLink. As with other information in CAD, this creates an accurate historical record of each agency and individual who was part of the incident.
Some agencies have access to security cameras at schools within their jurisdiction. By using mobile technology, these cameras may be able to provide live surveillance of the campus. This can be a literal game-changer in police tactics and suspect identification. Being able to do so from any internet-connected device, means not only access at the command post but, if safe to do so, by units directly in the hot zone of the campus.
In the background, but with equal urgency, the role of CAD technology's can also be vital to incident management. Dispatchers, crime analysts, detectives, or others can use the RMS to aid in suspect identification, historical encounters, or other pertinent information that may aid those on the scene. Something as simple as knowing the suspect's name or what would otherwise be an insignificant piece of information can play a pivotal role if a line of communication with the assailant is opened. Being able to get this information to units on the scene, a crisis negotiator, for instance, may mean an end to a violent incident.
Technology’s Role in the Aftermath
After a threat has been contained, one of the primary goals in the immediate aftermath of an incident such as the one in this scenario is getting families reunited. Law enforcement professionals who have trained for such incidents and studied the details of similar events, know that every parent is going to be one their way to the school to retrieve their child. Understandably so, this is a priority.
The reunification process can use law enforcement technology to help ensure kids are back with their parents as soon as possible while maintaining the integrity of the incident's investigation. While school records can also play a role, the combination of CAD, RMS, and mobile technology at the reunification site can be a tremendous advantage in contacting parents, verifying identities, and navigating the logistics of the site itself. Investigators can use mobile technology at the reunification location to help identify potential witnesses and determine the value of evidence such as video taken with cell phones.
Finally, the investigative documentation and after-action reports will rely on the records within CAD. Details such as times, precise unit assignments, and chat messages combine with incorporated audio, video, and other graphics to help ensure accurate recording of the incident. This is done so for several reasons, perhaps most importantly, to examine what can be done to prevent similar events in the future.