Integration of technology advances at street level to improve police incident response

Local police departments efforts to quickly respond to incidents are always thwarted by lack of proper communication between the police headquarters and patrol officers on the streets. However, recent advances in communication technology can solve this problem if adopted. Developments such as installation of computers in patrol cars, mobile fingerprints examination, Global Positioning System (GPS) and Sniper Positioning System (SNIPOS) are useful solutions. Improvements in radio and computer technology have also aided in improving the safety of both the public and safety officers.

    The police have an obligation to provide security and protection to citizens while in the streets doing patrols. However, most of the vital information is found at the headquarters. This acts as a hindrance to effective provision of services in that police officers are unable to access important information that would enable them to conduct on-spot investigations. The officers in the field have to rely on information relayed to them by their colleagues in the control room at the headquarters. This is mostly done over the radio. This method has a lot of shortcomings in that only limited amount of information can be transmitted, its tedious, its time consuming and most importantly its prone to transmission errors. There is need of technology integration at the street officer level so that patrol officers have access to a wide range of important information in the shortest time possible. This would enable them effectively respond to incidents. Recent advances in communication technology if employed would enable local departments patrol officers better communicate and thus improve their job performance. This includes improvements in the radio and computer technologies.

    New advances in communication technology if employed can greatly enhance communication and job performance of patrol police officers. One such technology is installation of personal computers or laptops in patrol cars. With this, police officers are able to access data in headquarters from their patrol cars at any location thus can check or verify information such as personal or vehicle details on the spot (Cisco Systems, 2010).  This greatly enhances security and protection of the people. Basically, the bulk of police work is performed on the streets and this mobile communication system improves their ability to conduct investigations in the field by providing the needed information without having to go to the headquarters.

It also eliminates use of the radio which is prone to communication errors in addition to being tedious and incapable of transmitting some types of information such as photographs. Out in the field, the mobile communication system uses wireless Local Area Network (LAN) found at the local police base to log in. But this is only if its within the LAN range. Outside, the system uses the most efficient data transmission services from a mobile telephony service provider (Cisco Systems, 2010).

    Global Positioning System (GPS) is a communication system that utilizes satellite in tracking a location.  This system can be applied in vehicles and mobile phones to help precisely identify a certain location and in the shortest time possible (Nuth, 2008). This would help police officers to locate suspects, victims and stolen vehicles. Police officers recommend use of personal safety alarms containing GPS technology (Nuth, 2008). These alarms are mostly connected to a central alarm at police headquarters. To enhance police response, the alarm central can be installed in patrol cars to enable them to locate the victim in minimal time.

    Another system that is used to monitor location is called Sniper Positioning System (SNIPOS). This is used to locate gunshots by calculating the distance, elevation and direction of a sniper two seconds after the system has detected a gunshot sound (Nuth, 2008). It can be installed in patrol cars to enable police officers on patrols respond to gunshots and thus save the victims lives and arrest offenders (Nuth, 2008). Mobile fingerprint checks is another advanced technology can be used by officers on patrol to check the identity of an individual at street level thus eliminating the need to take them to the head quarters which can inconvenience both the individual and the officer. This would also be useful in saving time where mass checks are being conducted.

    Emerging communication technologies enhances public safety by increasing coverage and signal (Desourdis  Porter, 2002). This includes the digital radios which have replaced the traditional analogue radios used by the police to communicate. The digital radios offer high quality voice transmission over a wider distance range (Desourdis  Porter, 2002). For improved security of officers and public in case of crime and disasters, coordinated communication is required between various departments such as police, fire fighting, and medical departments (Desourdis  Porter, 2002). This enables to prevent loss of life and property damage.

The development of palm-size computers has contributed to improved transmission of data information. These palm-size computers are easy to carry around and enable the patrol officers to access information from a database in the headquarters through wireless internet connectivity. They have a higher data rate and can be used away from the range of LAN connectivity (Levesque  Pahlovan, 2005).

    Ability of police officers on patrol to easily access information at the police headquarters from any location would greatly enhance their response to situations. Recent communication developments can be used by local police departments to ensure this. Its undisputable that advances in technology helps to fight and lower rate of crime. But is this the long term solution given the fact that advances in anti-crime technology parallels advances in pro-crime technology


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