How Law Enforcement is Using Virtual Communications in Policing, Prisons & Recruitment

With hundreds of millions of people under lockdown around the world, the way we interact and communicate with each other has drastically changed. 

But, perhaps today more than ever, it’s crucial that police officers effectively communicate with fellow officers, subordinates, higher-ups, community members, and other departments.

From video chats to video calls, police agencies are rapidly adopting new technology, methods, and ideas to keep the communications lines open. Here are some examples. 

Santa Fe Virtual Recruiting Chat

The stay-at-home order has slowed down some local law enforcement’s efforts to recruit new officers, but New Mexico State Police (NMSP) is taking an innovative approach.

The department is holding a virtual recruiting chat for anyone interested in learning more about the NMSP and the application process to join the department.

“NMSP jobs are pandemic-proof, recession-proof, and are always essential,” said State Police Chief, Tim Johnson. “Our commitment to our communities is more important than ever during these challenging times.”

The first virtual chat was conducted on the department’s Facebook Page earlier this month, with a second chat having already been announced.

Old Saybrook PD New iPads

Google Duo 2

The Old Saybrook Police Department is providing its officers with iPads, so that they can keep communicating with residents while following social distancing guidelines during the coronavirus pandemic.

The officers can use communication apps such as FaceTime or Google Duo to contact people in non-emergency situations. 

“It’s been a big help for us,” said Chief Keith Mello, President of the Connecticut Police Chief’s Association. “We found ways to change the way we do business a little bit that is going to keep us safe and keep the public safe.”

The technology was recently rolled out, but it’s already making a positive impact on their job: “We can take screenshots of all the documents we need, add it to our investigative case and no one had to meet in person and they were still face-to-face,” stated Old Saybrook Police Chief, Michael Spera.

Officers also use body cameras to record the interactions just like they would in a traditional response.

Warwickshire Prison Video Calls

Police custody in Warwickshire, England, has turned to technology to ensure that independent custody visitors (ICV) checks can still take place without breaking any social distancing rules.

ICVs are volunteers, whose role is to attend police stations to check on the treatment of detainees and the conditions in which they are held to ensure that their rights are being observed.

Using a video conference app on mobile phones, volunteers had the first virtual visit at the Nuneaton Custody Centre:  “A huge amount of care and attention goes into ensuring the welfare of detainees when they are brought into police custody and it is vital that the independent monitoring process continues, despite the difficulties brought by the Covid-19 outbreak,” said Crime Commissioner, Philip Seccombe.

Commissioner Seccomber continued: “In fact, it’s never been more important to ensure the welfare of everyone in the custody environment, from the detainees themselves through to the police officers and detention staff that work there and anyone else who has cause to visit. Maintaining viable and active custody visiting schemes is therefore crucial and I’m grateful for the flexible approach that all involved have shown to make sure that it can continue uninterrupted, while still ensuring social distancing can be observed.”

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