An investigation carried out by Pew Research Center has revealed that police officers are constantly worried when performing their duty. Regardless of gender, race or age, 46% of officers associated with being “nearly always” or “often” preoccupied with their physical safety, whilst men and new officers are more likely to report violent encounters.
Being a law enforcement officer can be an incredibly rewarding experience, but it can also mean putting your life in danger. Luckily, technological solutions have become a great ally for agencies who want to enhance safety as well as work performance.
Let’s take a look at three of the latest gadgets that could improve department effectiveness and improve everyday safety.
Automatic Injury Detection Vest
The Automatic Injury Detection (AID) vest can detect and alert when an officer has been shot or stabbed. The AID system senses when the panels have been pierced and sends an automated emergency alert to a phone or radio.
The device can identify the injured officer, what area of their body was hurt, the officer’s heart rate, and a GPS map identifying their exact location. Additionally, AID can communicate the injured officer’s medical information so that first responders will be advised as to blood types and/or any relevant allergies before even deploying to the site.
The Rockport Police Department is among the earlier adopters of this technology, and apparently has 19 officers equipped with the vests so far.
Samsung DeX In-Car Tech
Chicago Police Department (CPD) is one of the largest and most tech-savvy public safety agencies in the US. Recently, the agency deployed a pilot program to replace in-car computers with Samsung’s DeX in-car solution.
Under the program, participating officers can access police apps on their vehicle’s dash-mounted display, simply by docking their Samsung Galaxy smartphones. The platform allows officers to accomplish tasks such as accessing computer-aided dispatch and other CPD systems to conduct background checks and complete reports.
CPD Chief, Jonathan Lewin, has said that the main benefit of the new system is mobility. Although some of the department’s previous in-car computers have been removable, officers rarely moved them because of their size and weight.
“The concept is, you can create an ecosystem where this device can go with the officer where they go, and allow them to connect to the department’s information enterprise from a range of locations, on the street, in a car, at a police station, at another department facility. That flexibility, and reduced cost, is what’s important to extend mobility throughout the enterprise,” said Chief Lewin.
Body-worn cameras are small, mobile devices that patrol officers wear to provide video and audio recordings of their encounters with the public. This equipment can also help to improve trust in law enforcement.
For example, when the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department in Nevada implemented body cameras, it experienced significant drops in both the rate of complaints and the use of force. Additionally, the cost-benefit analysis revealed that savings from reduced complaints against officers, and the reduced time required to resolve such complaints, resulted in substantial cost savings for the police department.
This move towards transparency and encouraging better police-public relations is becoming increasingly popular. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police is one of the latest organisations to announce that it will outfit some Mounties with body cameras: “As the Commissioner, I agree it is critically important for Canadians to feel protected by the police and am committed to taking whatever steps are required to enhance trust between the RCMP and the communities we serve,” said RCMP Commissioner, Brenda Lucki.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has also said that he’s planning to push provincial premiers to equip police with body-worn cameras as a rapid, substantive solution to allegations of racism and brutality: “It is something that is, in my opinion, what we need to move forward with,” Trudeau told reporters.