How integration is the future of policing

Emerging leaders know that timely and relevant policing data improves officer safety and the department’s ability to keep their communities safe

Never before has the world been more connected, unless you are in public safety. As technology reinvents the way we communicate, many police departments are still behind the curve, working with legacy information systems in silos, making it difficult to share information between agencies.

Officers and civilian employees continue to manually duplicate the same data they collected from a recent call or field report into multiple systems. This duplication of data entry has many flaws. For one, it is not cost-effective. In addition, it invites inefficiencies, which can have myriad implications for policing tactics and investigations.

The good news is that police technology is evolving and there are now robust, integrated software solutions available to law enforcement agencies to streamline business processes like entering reports and data analysis.

Smart law enforcement agencies are integrating technology solutions because they know it improves officer safety.
Smart law enforcement agencies are integrating technology solutions because they know it improves officer safety. (Photo/PoliceOne)

Integrated software enables law enforcement to be proactive by reducing report times, returning patrol hours, better serving the community through identifying crime trends and reinventing the way public safety personnel interact with data from inside and outside of their jurisdictions. Here are four ways the power of integration can transform your agency's operations:

1. Improved officer safety

Technology saves lives. An agency’s CAD system is a powerful piece of technology that enables a dispatcher to give officers mission-critical information before they even arrive on a scene.

A CAD system is typically integrated with other technologies, such as GIS and RMS, that allow the dispatcher to do a quick environmental scan regarding the door an officer is about to knock on, or any notes or warnings on the individual that was just pulled over. This is why an agency’s CAD system is often considered the heartbeat of a department’s infrastructure. Smart law enforcement agencies are integrating technology solutions because they know it improves officer safety.

2. Increased cost savings

Integrated software solutions offer long-term business process improvements that translate to significant cost savings. With the actual cost to upgrade aside, the return on investment after the solution is implemented will be more than worth it. Integrated solutions – like a CAD/RMS for example – will improve operational efficiency. Officers and civilians will spend less time on data entry and more time performing advanced job-related duties.

3. Higher quality data

Data quality errors have significant implications in policing. Poor data quality means flawed decision-making. When an officer enters the same data repeatedly into multiple systems, the potential for an error in that date entry increases. When law enforcement data is entered incorrectly, whether it’s the subject’s name, license plate number, incident address, evidence, witness or victim information, there is a huge potential for operational and tactical risk. Integrated technology solutions help improve data quality because the data does not have to be entered several times across several systems.

It is also frustrating for officers who use that data to know that their time could be better spent out in the community instead of in the office handling reports or dealing with paperwork.

4. Improved data sharing

Gone are the days of keeping data close to the vest in policing. The ability to share records like criminal history, license plate data, and more, with other jurisdictions is much easier today because of changes in legislation and improved integration capabilities. Emerging law enforcement leaders recognize the value of sharing data across jurisdictional boundaries. These leaders understand that timely and relevant policing data improves officer safety as well as the department’s ability to keep the communities they swore to protect safe from harm.

Next steps

Understanding how integrated software improves policing is the first step. Now it’s time to take the next step and act. To influence departmental changes that will improve officer and community safety as well as business operations, an internal champion needs to be identified and spearhead a compelling business case for adopting an integrated solution. This champion will be responsible for communicating with (and possibly convincing) leadership about the need for this improved change in the department.

The champion must conduct some due diligence as well. This includes exploring several integrated software solutions whether informally (e.g., web demo, phone calls, site visits and customer reference phone calls) or formally (RFI or RFQ), preparing an estimated budget, developing a proposed project timeline, identifying members of the proposed internal project team (or technology committee if one doesn’t already exist) and review of any relevant legislation. The process is often long – with many months of preparation – and a lot of hard work, but worth it if the outcome includes improving officer and community safety.

The future of policing includes integrated technology, including software. While several agencies have adopted integrated technology solutions, many agencies are still in the exploratory phase. Myriad resources are available to agencies about how to approach integrated software. Leveraging these resources will help departments make informed and educated decisions before, during and after procurement.

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