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How to meet rising standards in public safety delivery

Four technologies that agencies can quickly deploy to help raise the bar in hiring and training along with corrections and policy management practices


Public safety officers are being held to higher standards by the public they serve. Technology can help agencies meet rising expectations. (image/Getty)

Sponsored by Amazon Web Services

To meet rising expectations and standards in law enforcement, public safety agencies need to continuously evaluate and improve service delivery policies and procedures. They are turning to innovative technologies to increase transparency and citizens’ confidence in law enforcement.

Agencies can quickly deploy these four cloud-based technologies and work with Amazon Web Services (AWS) Partners highlighted here to help conquer challenges that they may agencies face.

Challenge 1: Recruiting, vetting, and hiring law enforcement professionals

High-profile incidents of excessive use of force by police have resulted in increased scrutiny of police applicants. It is no secret that an applicant with a questionable record may try to change agencies in an effort to hide issues with misconduct. When officers are dealing with allegations of discriminatory behavior or inappropriate actions, citizen watchdogs mine the officer’s social media accounts for clues to support their claims. One controversial post can resurface publicly years later and paint the entire force in a negative light.

It’s vital for law enforcement agencies to be forewarned of potential issues before hiring someone so they can evaluate the applicant accordingly. But with a chronic shortage of time and resources to do thorough background investigations, important details can be overlooked.

Law enforcement officers founded Guardian Alliance Technologies to give public safety agencies tools to streamline and improve the processes of vetting and hiring applicants. The cloud-based background investigation software enables agencies to pre-screen, investigate, and approve applicants with greater speed and efficiency while delving deeper into applicant backgrounds, including their social media history, to surface any potential issues.

They invite the applicant to complete an online personal history questionnaire. Then, they enter their answers into a national database where agencies to which the applicant has applied can compare answers to identify any omissions or conflicts and flag any concerns.

When they approve applicant to move forward, the software helps the hiring agency check references and conduct a more thorough background investigation in a much shorter amount of time. The standardized questions and consistent process also help make sure that agencies make hiring decisions on an equitable basis, avoiding claims of disparity.

With Guardian Alliance Technologies’ background investigation software, agencies can improve their existing vetting process.. Adopted by agencies in over 36 states, and with new agencies added every week, the tool will continue to grow as the network expands

Challenge 2: Identifying and correcting officer misconduct

In the past, agencies sometimes swept problematic officer behavior under the rug. However with the increased demand for transparency and accountability, has made misconduct a critical issue To reclaim the public trust and restore the honor of the badge, law enforcement agencies must identify and correct problematic officer behavior before it escalates into a crisis – both to avoid jeopardizing the reputation of the department, and to support new and seasoned officers who may be struggling.

First Sign, a cloud-based early invention solution (EIS) from Benchmark Analytics, uses data studies and the database automation of police systems to provide a systemic, highly accurate means to identify problematic conduct so agencies can take action.

Preventive by design, First Sign considers context, patterns of problematic behavior, and officer history to identify officers who need intervention. This provides fewer false positives than methods that use thresholds like an arbitrary number of use-of-force or use-of-restraints incidents. First Sign takes into account additional factors like the officers’ patrol area or call type.

Benchmark’s EIS helps agencies elevate performance by identifying:

1. Exceptional officer conduct so agencies can acknowledge and support those who exhibit model behavior and build trust with the community

2. Officers who exhibit a change in behavior and who may be in need of wellness after exposure to traumatic events known to cause an inordinate amount of stress or anxiety

3. Officers who are going off-track so agencies can get them back-on track with the necessary support and intervention

Challenge 3: Helping incarcerated individuals on a path to self-improvement

Justice and public safety agencies need to protect and serve the public—and incarcerated individuals. Supporting incarcerated individuals on a path to self-improvement not only helps them rebuild productive lives but also significantly reduces the rate of recidivism.

Although education is a well-documented way to keep people out of jail, most inmates don’t have regular access to educational programming while incarcerated.

Edovo, an AWS Partner, is working to help those incarcerated build better lives. They offer a digital platform with access to a curated collection of educational resources via a tablet-based app to help them make progress during and after incarceration.

Edovo’s library of content provides inmates with a personalized, incentive-based learning platform. Inmates can check out a tablet and access their personalized account that tracks courses taken, certifications earned, and curated content that guides them toward their goals.

The content includes job skills training, GED preparation courses, life skills training, and inspirational programming. The platform also touches on topics ranging from wellness and mental health to parenting and other life skills necessary to navigating the justice system. Inmates can earn rewards from their learnings to access entertainment content like movies, games and music.

Challenge 4: Improving accountability through training and policy

With increased public scrutiny of law enforcement actions, it’s more important than ever that agencies effectively define and train personnel on appropriate and lawful behavior. This impetus extends beyond use of force to all areas of law enforcement operations, from report writing to receiving personnel complaints and working with people with disabilities or non-English speakers.

Agencies with policies that are not up to current standards, policies that are vague and do not accurately communicate expected behaviors or policies that are not enforced in practice are exposed to unnecessary risk. However, when strong policies are implemented and enforced members of an agency are less likely to violate the rights of the citizens in the community and less likely to act in an inappropriate manner that could result it in public complaints.

Lexipol helps agencies mitigate that risk by helping make sure law enforcement agencies have well-written and reliable policies that are enforced with good training. Lexipol’s policy content team draws from 170 comprehensive law enforcement policies to help agencies customize a policy specific to their needs and state laws. Then, they provide a framework to help the agency align its procedures with its policies.

Lexipol also helps agencies train its officers on those policies by providing short daily training bulletins that teach officers how to interpret and apply those policies to real-world scenarios.

Another key part of Lexipol’s policy system is the accountability tool that allows agencies to issue policies and training electronically. They can track whether or not—and when—officers acknowledge policies and complete training, building valuable records that can protect the agency when issues arise.

New urgency, new tools to build with

Public safety agencies have new urgency and tools to conquer pervasive challenges and build organizations that meet rising expectations and serve their communities better.

These solutions here help agencies recruit, vet, and hire worthy applicants, identify problematic behaviors and assist officers in need of support, give incarcerated individuals access to life-changing education, and help agencies mitigate risk by aligning policy to procedure.

Register to watch this series of on-demand webinars to learn more about how AWS and its technology partners are helping public safety agencies raise the bar in performance and meet the public’s expectations for transparency.

Laura Neitzel is Director of Branded Content for Lexipol, where she produces written and multimedia branded content of relevance to a public safety audience, including law enforcement, fire, EMS and corrections. She holds degrees in English from the University of Texas and the University of North Texas, and has over 20 years’ experience writing and producing branded and educational content for nationally-recognized companies, government agencies, non-profits and advocacy organizations.