Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Technology As A Force Multiplier

There is an interesting piece over at USA Today where they look at police agencies increasing reliance on technology to make up for staffing shortfalls. From the story:
This month, a survey of 70 large police agencies by the Police Executive Research Forum, a Washington law enforcement think-tank, found that 90% planned to increase their use of various technologies, primarily aimed at deterring crime by adopting more efficient surveillance, patrol and response strategies. 
“Departments are looking to technology as a force multiplier,” said Chuck Wexler, the forum’s executive director. “They are using this technology to better manage fewer resources, because just saying, ‘We don’t have enough officers’ isn’t cutting it with the public.”
As more and more departments suffer budget cuts, and often times personnel cuts it will become more important that departments are as efficient as possible. I've been in law enforcement for 20 years in Texas and this is the first time I have seen Texas agencies lay off cops. I don't think it's going to get better anytime soon either.

There is a lot a police department can do to use technology to fill in the gaps. In addition to the technology mentioned in the article, basic crime analysis principles can help your agency sharpen their focus. Instead of a reactive policing approach, using a problem oriented policing model can help you to become more efficient.

It's also a good time to ask yourself what services should your agency provide and what services aren't really part of your mission. Many agencies have started evaluating their policies regarding responding to minor traffic accidents and how to respond to problematic false alarms. Cutting out or lowering the priority placed on these types of services can allow your agency to refocus resources on the services that matter.

What is your agency doing to make itself more efficient?

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