How mobile intelligence improves police officer safety
Advances in technology are enabling PDs to deliver real-time data to police officers on patrol, enhancing their tactical knowledge and situational awareness
By James Careless, P1 Contributor
Life has never been more dangerous for police officers working in patrol cars. Fortunately, there is a way to make their lives safer; namely by providing these officers with real-time “mobile intelligence” in the field.
Mobile intelligence is compiled by specialized law enforcement software that integrates data from CAD, JMS, and RMS sources at headquarters, plus reports from other personnel in the field. This intelligence is then delivered wirelessly to the officers’ in-car terminals, smartphones and tablets, providing them with the facts they need to stay safe.
Here are four ways mobile intelligence can save officers’ lives and increase public safety.
1. Enhanced situational awareness
The more patrol officers know about what is happening around them, the better prepared they are to make good tactical decisions and help other first responders nearby.
For instance, consider a hostage-taking: A patrol car officer with access to comprehensive mobile intelligence knows the real-time specifics of the actual incident. They are aware where the suspects and hostages are, which other officers and agencies have been deployed to the scene, and where possible public safety issues could occur (e.g., due to bystanders). This knowledge allows patrol car officers to respond with speed and confidence to whatever happens next.
Well-informed patrol officers can also be redeployed as needed either by dispatch or the on-scene incident commander without being briefed first. This saves precious seconds and can save lives as well.
2. Knowing before you go
The more a patrol officer knows about a domestic disturbance call they are about to respond to, the more chance they can do it safely.
“It’s the difference between turning up at the door not knowing what you are going to face, or being pre-warned that the perpetrator has a history of mental illness, violence and/or priors,” said PoliceOne columnist and San Francisco Deputy Chief (ret.) James Dudley. “Having a detailed picture before you ring the doorbell – from police records and neighbors on scene – helps an officer determine the right way to make the safest approach, including calling for backup if need be.”
Mobile intelligence can also aid officers entering an unstable scene with multiple individuals present, by providing them information about the physical appearances, clothing, possible weapons and exact locations of these people, Dudley added. Having such information enhances officer safety.
3. Staying on the radar
A mobile intelligence system lets dispatch know where each patrol officer is in real-time.
Such knowledge matters when forces on the ground need to be redeployed quickly, as can happen during a bombing at a public event that results in mass casualties. It also makes a difference during situations where officers and other first responders need to be evacuated, as happened before the collapse of the World Trade Center Towers on 9/11.
Tracking patrol officers also matters when one of them gets injured on the job and needs immediate assistance. Mobile intelligence systems can alert dispatch that an officer is down, indicate where they are and send the closest help to them fast.
4. Better on-scene collaboration
Mobile intelligence makes it easier for patrol car officers to work together in the field, as well as working with headquarters.
“Patrol officers can share data, photos and videos with each other, car to car,” said Dudley. “This allows them to collaborate closely as a team, rather than standalone units who only hear each other’s occasional comments over the radio. Better teamwork means better results, and safer officers.”
Mobile intelligence improves police officer safety in many ways. In today’s increasingly violent world, police officers need and deserve this edge.
About the Author
James Careless writes on law enforcement and technology topics.