Pillar 3: Technology and Social Media
NC4 has introduced a blog series titled “21st Century Policing: A 6-part Blog Series”, to share with our readers. This blog series introduces each of the six pillars identified by the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing and the basis of each pillar. This post is the third blog in this series.
By Mary O’Connor
Assistant Chief (retired), Tampa PD
Subject Matter Expert, NC4 Street Smart®
In pillar three, “Technology and Social Media,” the president’s task force assessed various technology issues affecting law enforcement agencies today. Specifically, the recommendations embraced the concept of careful planning in adoption, implementation, use, and evaluation of new technologies. As discussed in all six of the pillars in the 21st Century Policing Report, the importance for the community’s collaboration with the police and transparency in the organization is emphasized, as it enhances trust and fosters positive relationships.
NC4 Street Smart® expertly exhibits how technology can help a police agency adapt to the recommendations in this pillar. NC4 Street Smart is a real-time crime-fighting tool that facilitates collaboration of various data sources and communication that keeps everyone informed, knowledgeable, and protected. Street Smart’s map layering functionality gives officers the ability to be surgical in their daily approach to patrol, putting only “what’s important now” to them in their geographical view. This surgical approach has everyone in the agency focused on key offenses and key offenders, instead of random, indiscriminate tactics. Street Smart’s built-in real-time communication tools (blogging function and bulletins) puts critical information into the hands of the officers quicker than relying on traditional methods that are ineffective, such as departmental email.
Data and communication that is captured in this powerful crime-fighting tool can be shared with the community, for collaboration purposes. For example, a wanted person flyer from a surrounding agency shared within the department can be printed and shared at community watch meetings or gatherings. The map layers can show any selected data by the user, in a specific geographical area, and also printed/shared with the community to keep them abreast of trends and patterns, and have them help the police solve these patterns through teamwork, as this pillar recommends.
This pillar also mentions law enforcement’s need to implement technology such as license plate readers and camera systems, like CCTV, with care to avoid the perception of privacy violations with citizens. In Pembroke Pines, Florida, the police department uses LPR technology. The locations of the mobile LPRs are available to officers in the map function of Street Smart, so officers that are investigating offenses can identify if an LPR nearby would be able to assist them in identifying the offender that may have been captured on the LPR. In Tampa, Florida, the police department engaged the community in helping them solve crime by creating a program called “Project REC” (record every camera).
Citizens with privately owned surveillance cameras attached to their homes register the camera with the police department, for law enforcement’s awareness that the camera exists. When an officer is investigating a crime, they can turn on the “Project REC” layer in their map function to see if a camera nearby can assist in their case solving efforts. In the recent and tragic murder case of 20-year old Iowa jogger, Mollie Tibbets, there were reports that a home surveillance video helped to solve the case. By having community registered camera locations in real-time during an investigation available to the front lines of the agency, it might help to solve, or even potentially help rescue a victim. Not only camera locations, but also knowing the real-time location of offenders by type, residence, and previous offending locations, allows the sense-making aspect of Street Smart to assist our agencies become heroes.
NC4 is committed to supplying law enforcement officers with technology to support mission demands for reducing crime and maintaining community trust. NC4 Street Smart can assist law enforcement agencies with achieving the goals the task force established.
The author of this blog series, Mary O'Connor, is a recently retired Assistant Chief from the Tampa Police Department (TPD). She spent 20 years with the TPD working her way through the ranks and has experience in most areas of the department including Patrol Commander, Detective Commander, Field Training Officer, Narcotics Officer, Economic Crimes Detective, Sergeant, Lieutenant, Major, and Deputy Chief. She also serves as a special advisor to the board of NAWLEE (National Association of Women Law Enforcement Executives). Mary was instrumental in the end-user design of Street Smart and is the subject matter expert on the solution.
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