Much of the media spotlight this past year has been on police reform, with a heightened emphasis on rethinking officer hiring, training, and compliance. Given the current climate, it is essential for law enforcement leaders to explore pragmatic technology solutions that will enable police to do their jobs smarter, better, and more safely while enabling data-driven leadership.
Smart technology solutions can revolutionize hiring, training, and certifying police officers. More importantly, they can assist leadership in being more proactive and transparent, enhance department culture, and improve communications and actions in real time, when every minute can be critical.
When properly collected and analyzed, qualitative metrics can enable departments and their officers to make well-informed, data-driven decisions that will improve community relations, help law enforcement do their jobs more safely, and reduce misconduct.
Hiring practices boil down to two key questions: Are we hiring the right people for our department, and are we hiring people with the right temperament to be successful in a law enforcement career?
A smart technology strategy can improve law enforcement protocols by utilizing a combination of analytics, psychological evaluations, and objective training and compliance data. Departments can refine their screening processes to search for the right personality traits, document that standards were upheld during the training and certification process, and demonstrate consistent and robust oversight with instant retrieval and case management sharing capabilities.
Enabling Top Performance — Officer Monitoring/Intervention Solutions
In addition to hiring, it is vitally important to focus on retaining quality officers. This includes paying close attention to how we motivate our top performers and how we enable them to anchor our department’s culture.
An early intervention system (EIS) is another invaluable tool in a department’s technology toolbox. Sometimes referred to as early warning systems (EWS), the intent of an EIS system is to make officers better with helpful instruction and recommendations. The basic concept of an EIS is no different than offering tutoring or supplemental instruction to any officer identified as potentially benefiting from more detailed training.
Before implementing such a system, however, it’s important that proposed thresholds and notifications are consistent with a department’s expressed goals and weighted by importance.
Maintaining Legally Defensible Records — Internal Affairs Case Management
It’s difficult for administrators to address officer issues and maintain transparency without the ability to quickly access personnel records, training and certification data, and separation records.
The amount of data maintained each year on a single officer is extensive: education and training logs, test scores, performance reviews, supervisor notes, firearm tests, range certifications, and so on. Factor in the number of years an officer has been on the force and the number of officers in a department, and it’s easy to understand how lacking a well-managed, integrated, secure case management system can lead to a communications disaster when public transparency is demanded.
A customizable case management system can help departments meet statutory requirements, improve case workflow, and enhance communication between departments by standardizing the case management process across all channels. A key facet of a smart case management system seamlessly bridges the present and the future because it helps enforce compliance with current statutory requirements while also allowing for the adoption of future legislative changes.
Data-Driven Leadership — Real-Time Data Solutions
One common failing of point solutions developed for law enforcement is that the data is left siloed and inaccessible, making trend analysis nearly impossible. Optimally, the ability to update, access, analyze and share pertinent information with leaders in real time should be a requirement in the police reform debate.
Also, policing goals must be specifically identified and communicated. It is only when goals are identified and clearly articulated that underlying strategies and metrics can be established. You cannot manage what you cannot measure, and what you measure impacts what is accomplished. Thus, the importance of creating the right quantitative and qualitative metrics cannot be overstated.
Effective technology solutions are constantly evolving, and it’s only by continuously assessing and analyzing department and officer performance against their mission that law enforcement entities can be assured they are moving the needle on their goals.
For years, police agencies have made do with subpar solutions to 21st century problems. In rethinking a policing paradigm, it’s important to pursue purpose-built solutions rather than adopting one-size-fits-all generic software solutions.
The author, Ari Vidali, is Founder & CEO of Envisage Technologies creators of the Acadis Readiness Suite, a comprehensive, modular training management framework that modernizes and streamlines the complex operations of nearly 11,000 public safety agencies, serving over 2 million first responders via their FirstForward online training network.