Over the past eighteen months we have witnessed events causing us to alter our way of life and the way we communicate. During this time, increases were seen in domestic violence and destruction of property as well as attacks on law enforcement.
Policing has always been a balance of force and service. Unfortunately, reactions to many of these events created a disconnect between the public and law enforcement in many communities. With strong attention on law enforcement, the media and the public have unprecedented access to never-before-seen information that is both real-time and actionable for good and bad. Law enforcement has begun evaluating new approaches for responding to calls/incidents including having civilian mental health workers responding to certain mental health incidents.
To effectively manage these changes, law enforcement agencies need to consider operational and technological changes including:
- Policy and procedure changes
- Changes in the training curriculum and training procedures of officers
- Changes in how 911 communications personnel evaluate callers
- Establishment of crime centers with situational awareness and quick response capabilities
- Use of drones to evaluate situations and determine proper response
- Video feeds to evaluate situations and determine proper response
- Use of video teleconferencing to communicate operational and situational information with officers, other first responders, management, and in some cases, the media, and the public
With 5G technology becoming available across the US, access to real-time information, including streaming video, will be the norm in the coming years and law enforcement must have access to this technology to solicit help from community activists and citizens to deal with such issues as organized crime, drug and human trafficking, domestic violence, etc. In many instances, these technologies are currently being used by organized crime and violent groups against law enforcement, but they could also be used to obtain valuable information to fight crime and violence.
To deescalate crisis situations, law enforcement should use social media outlets to mitigate organized violence and shape public opinion. Community outreach programs can support and improve public relations. In crisis situations, providing real-time information to surrounding agencies, the media, and the public can mitigate false narratives and instill confidence in public safety. Body-worn camera video is currently used after the fact when it could be used proactively as situations escalate in real-time. As 5G expands the bandwidth capabilities of smart devices, real-time video from body-worn, traffic, and business cameras can be available to dispatch, crime centers, and officers in the field. With any new technology, there are challenges such as cyber security implications and connectivity, but all of these can be overcome with the right solutions.
Following are steps that can be taken to develop an interoperability strategy:
- Assess current technology including applications, network, connectivity, and security
- Work with network and application providers to determine connectivity options with social media, other agencies, and advocacy groups
- Develop a strategic plan and vision
- Appoint a team to continually evaluate new technology and its applicability to the strategic plan and vision
- Communicate the vision to the media and the public
Considerations when developing a technology roadmap based on the strategic vision:
- Work closely with industry experts including national organizations and other agencies to develop a technology roadmap that includes:
- Connectivity to real-time video
- Connectivity to social media
- Interoperability with other agencies and departments including law enforcement, fire, EMS, permits, traffic, hospitals, utilities, etc.
- Making certain strategic information available to first responders, management, community leaders, the media, and the public
- Work with existing vendors to determine their ability to meet the technology roadmap or find new vendors that can
- Ensure the roadmap provides a realistic timeline and cost for each strategy. The strategic plan changes cannot be implemented at once
- Include dedicated personnel to anticipate and implement the new technology
- Continually plan and budget for future/unanticipated technology
Winbourne Consulting has been serving the Public Safety and law enforcement community for over 20 years, and our subject matter experts can help develop strategic plans to support the agency’s future vision. We work with all the major Public Safety vendors supporting law enforcement with application software, body-worn cameras, social media, and real-time video connectivity solutions.
For additional information, contact Winbourne Consulting at firstname.lastname@example.org.