How technology can heal community tension

When properly used, it can help every sworn officer uphold their sworn oath to integrity

By Bryan Selzer

It has long been accepted by law enforcement agencies that a small percentage of the use of force is accountable for a disproportionate amount of complaints filed. Recently, this understanding has been highlighted as our nation’s cities and states consider police reform initiatives in their local communities.

As these discussions continue, it’s imperative that decision-makers place a significant emphasis on what these reforms should address, especially in regard to the need for early invention to mitigate and prevent any future crises. The swiftest and most factual way to accomplish early invention is through technological solutions that collect timely data to systematically identity patterns of behavior.

Technology and High-Liability Event Training

When it comes to high-liability events, the best defense is concise and complete documentation that outlines an agency’s proactive approach to internal controls.

Implementing the right combination of technologies can allow law enforcement agencies to create, store and access a variety of documented training and event results that offer both deep analysis and actionable insights. By taking a methodical approach, law enforcement agencies can use viable data points to alleviate and diffuse public criticism of police actions. Facts and data are key.

Training is the single highest liability area for a law enforcement agency. Proper documentation of training and field incidents is important from the first day of the police academy to the day an officer retires.

A comprehensive technology platform helps to accurately document the quality of the training a new recruit receives, assists in the demonstration of the types of calls officers may take, and equips agencies to recognize every instance of improper behavior and bad conduct. Having this kind of information at a police leader’s fingertips enables agencies to quickly respond to officer actions and retrain where necessary.

Agencies that make a greater investment in high-liability events and conflict training will be best prepared to educate state and municipal government leaders who may vote to enact laws aimed at increasing the minimum hours of de-escalation and use-of-force training. By using existing technological tools, law enforcement agencies can utilize collected data to advocate for specific training officers need based on the types of calls they receive in addition to citizen interactions.

Technology and Data-Driven Accountability

Although many agencies have adopted certain technologies to improve across-the-board accountability through documentation and data collection, the majority of data collections are still tracked primarily on paper, which can ultimately limit an agency’s ability to proactively store and monitor incidents.

Paper documentation can also impact how quickly management can review and take appropriate action.

In cases where documentation is tracked electronically, it is through a multitude of applications from different vendors that do not communicate with one another, making it difficult for law enforcement leaders to see a comprehensive view.

It is time to bring law enforcement systems of accountability into the 21st century.

In order to mitigate negative public perceptions and increase transparency to re-establish a respected police-community bond, law enforcement agencies should consider implementing technology that generates immediate reports and statistics as soon as an officer enters incident information. For example, by using statistical data through technology, management can easily review and answer questions such as what type of resistance the officer encounters, what type of force was used, if injuries occurred and if one officer is using force more often than others. Further, technologies available today are capable of connecting to statewide and national databases for a clear macro view of law enforcement analytics.

The right technology assists in making sense of already collected data to interpret it into actionable, analytical facts. Harnessing the power of an early warning system’s statistical reporting identifies potential areas of concern before they happen, pulling together data points to create a profile on officers that includes information about their job performance. By providing insight to diminish future issues, an early warning system builds mutual respect and leads to stronger relationships within a community.

This problem-solving approach presents a strategic and factual response without personal bias. Credible, early warning technology demonstrates a fair and effective analysis in a manner acceptable to all stakeholders. Through the accumulation of data, the involvement of supervisors and necessary follow-up, law enforcement agencies directly strengthen decision-making, transparency, training and accountability. This type of investment is the first critical step in beginning to restore trust and provide clarity.

What’s Next

Automating police processes and interpreting their results to facilitate sustainable and long-lasting impacts will create mutual respect and support between local law enforcement agencies and the communities they’re sworn to protect and serve.

Relationships are built primarily on trust, and at this moment, as a nation, we need to rebuild and maintain that bond between the public and law enforcement officers. This can be best demonstrated by using the most advanced technology available today in order to demonstrate a proactive understanding and devotion to change.

Technology can and should be seen as a friend to both the police and the communities they serve. When properly used, it can help every sworn officer uphold their sworn oath to integrity, character and the values of public trust. In the end, it will generate the kind of community partnership that caused police officers to join the force in the first place.

About the author

Bryan Selzer is CEO and founder of LEFTA Systems.

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