cloud for law enforcement

INDUSTRY INSIGHT

How cloud keeps law enforcement policies up to date, accessible

Issues like rampant opioid abuse, sexual assault, active shooters and police officers’ use of force are swiftly changing the landscape of communities nationwide and creating new and evolving challenges for law enforcement agencies, according to our recently released State of Policy in Law Enforcement report. As law enforcement works under intense scrutiny and is forced to do more with less, it's critical that officers remain current on changing policies, techniques and best practices.

Cloud-based technology has been an especially effective tool helping law enforcement modernize work practices, extend their budgets to better serve the public and better respond to changing societal issues. Accurate, secure documentation has always been an essential part of law enforcement, and with a growing number of new policies, cloud-based solutions make it easier for agencies to quickly access, update and disseminate their most crucial documents -- from policies and procedures to reports and training videos.

The fight against opioids

The Naperville, Ill., Police Department is using cloud-based technology in its fight against drug use and overdose deaths.

When the department's Narcan opioid antidote policy was first released, officials leveraged its cloud-based policy management platform to distribute and ensure personnel sign off on receipt of the new policy. All first-line responders were then trained and tested on the new policy online and equipped with Narcan kits. Today, the agency relies on the same technology to manage and disseminate changes to the policy and track the expiration of Narcan kits. By issuing policies and verifying officers’ understanding online, Naperville PD can avoid unnecessary overtime training and ensure every officer knows how to react when encountering an overdose.

School safety

With an average of 10 school shootings per year since 1999, violence in schools has become an unfortunate and all-too-common fact of life. In response, law enforcement agencies are better preparing officers for incidents like these with information that allows them to react faster to save lives when seconds count.

There is no exact profile of a school shooter, and officers can’t memorize the ever-changing layout of every school. Therefore, it is essential officials have maps, policies and training available on demand to quickly access and review at the scene of a crisis.

In the summer of 2018, prior to the start of a new school year, the Lake County, Fla., Sheriff's Office realized this while training officers for active shooter situations. “One of the things that became apparent during the training is that if you aren’t the school resource officer and you haven’t spent any time on campus, you’re not going to know where to find the cafeteria or any specific location,” Lt. John Herrell said. “Preparation is key. We want officers to be prepared.”

The Lake County Sheriff’s Office now keeps school maps and evacuation routes in the cloud, putting them at officers' fingertips. In an emergency, officers can pull up a digital school map in seconds rather than waste critical time thumbing through a binder to find the right map. Additionally, standard operating procedures are updated in real time, so officers are always up to date on the correct steps to take in the event of a school emergency.

Use of force

Use of force is one of the most widely discussed and contentious issues in law enforcement. Agencies across the country are constantly challenged with managing their use-of-force policies to aid officers in making split-second, life-or-death decisions in dangerous situations and then thoroughly documenting those incidents. 

Effective use-of-force policies provide officers with necessary tools and training for dealing with combative or armed individuals and can help officers defuse a situation before it becomes deadly. These policies also impact law enforcement departments’ interactions with the public.  Many policies now include de-escalation language that is aimed at preventing the need for force. 

Between security cameras, body-worn cameras and civilian cell phone cameras, an officer’s every move is recorded. This means minor incidents where a textbook-case of use of force can generate negative attention. An effective use-of-force policy helps officers make better decisions in the moment and protects them in the aftermath of an incident.

In Connecticut, the Hartford Police Department updates and distributes its use-of-force policy and reporting protocol with help from the cloud. The cloud-based version makes it easy to track revisions, publish and distribute the policy. Officers electronically acknowledge receipt of policy changes and have real-time access to the latest version through their cell phones.

How technology will shape law enforcement moving forward

Law enforcement professionals believe cloud-based software contributes to more effective policing through updated and communicated policies, with 80 percent of respondents echoing this sentiment in The State of Policy 2018 report. These few examples show the importance of purpose-built software firsthand; however, it is worth noting, the software’s role -- and potential -- is also evolving. New trends in law enforcement, a changing workforce and societal influences are driving the need for advanced technology solutions.

The cloud is serving as an essential enabler for newer technologies. By moving a significant amount of their data and intelligence to the cloud, law enforcement agencies are better positioned to take advantage of artificial intelligence and machine learning. This critical volume of data can be leveraged in new and important ways to understand patterns of crimes and better predict them in the future, leading to better overall societal outcomes.

About the Author

David DiGiacomo is the CEO of PowerDMS.

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