When we try to take a look ahead into what the next decade could bring for law enforcement and public safety, there are multiple challenges that could mean significant changes to the way officers interact with their communities.
One of the biggest ways to combat these challenges is a new focus on community-oriented policing. Community-oriented policing is not a new idea, and many departments have been successfully using it for years. However, with the recent media spotlight on any perceived misdeed by law enforcement officers as an excuse to disparage the men and women who are risking their lives to protect their communities, many people are being given negative impressions of their local police.
That’s why the concepts of community-oriented policing are going to be a must for all departments, as every choice officers make could be put onto the internet and second-guessed by those who know nothing about law enforcement or the situation.
Criminal justice researcher Rebecca L. Paynich of Curry College in Massachusetts calls for police to seek education, including higher education, because it will help them obtain better communication skills, be more tolerant with citizens who may approach an officer in a hostile or belligerent manner, comprehend different perspectives on civil rights issues, and find ways to avoid deadly force in confrontations.
This focus on improved community-oriented policing can also be enhanced by key advancements in technology. Devices such as body cameras can allow police officials to show concerned community members and activists what actually happened in a situation if someone makes an accusation against an officer. Being able to bring the actual video and then have face-to-face dialogue with community leaders can be crucial in building relationships with segments of the community that may have a distrust of law enforcement.
Another future advancement that will change the way officers are able to serve their communities is next-generation 911 systems that will allow residents to send text messages, photos, videos, and other information that will allow officers to have a better idea of the “situation on the ground” before arriving at the location of an emergency. Imagine the benefit to officers if they’re being called to a “shots fired” scenario and they’ve already been supplied with video from the scene that shows the incident, and pictures that show potential suspects and the general layout of the area. Knowing a safe way to approach the scene is much easier with those tools.
Along that line of knowing the scene before officers actually approach, advancements in robots and drones will also allow not only for increased intelligence about crises but also for provision of real-time data to officers in tense situations.
Other trends that are going to have an impact are the aging of the baby boomer population and the growth of cyber crime. The threat of cyber crime is exponentially growing in the U.S. and exceeded $1.3 billion in 2016. As the population continues to age and technology can be more difficult to grasp for older Americans, it opens the door to more avenues for cyber criminals. Departments will need to train their officers on how to deal with situations that may have a cyber component, when in the past similar situations wouldn’t have any involvement of something like a smartphone app.
An overall factor in the likely advances we’ve mentioned and others that we haven’t been able to include is the importance of strong communication. That’s where KOVA Corp. stands ready to help you and your department prepare for whatever changes you may find your department facing in the near and distant future. Contact KOVA at 1-800-204-5200 to find out how systems like the Verint Media Recorder for Public Safety can not only help you now but continue to develop to keep you ready for whatever is next.