When GIPD released a progress report earlier this year, the police chief talked about it reflecting the beginning of changes the department is undertaking.
As they evolve into what’s called “strategic policing,” they’re pairing old methods with new technology. Officers are training on laptops and touchscreen tablets they can use from their patrol cars.
“An officer spends a great deal of his time writing reports, just about every call they go on generates some type of paper is what we call it,” says Sgt. Ellis Collins.
Police say the biggest benefit is not typing up handwritten notes when they get back to the department.
“The majority of your reports are done in the field, therefore less time spent in the office, more time spent on the streets actually patrolling, and you’re not stuck behind a computer,” says Officer David Caldwell.
Faster reports also means faster data. Jessica Hoback, GIPD’s new Crime Analyst, says software shows them trends in crime or accidents, which helps target problem areas – part of strategic policing.
Hoback says they’ve already had success in utilizing the mapping software to stop stopping vandalism and burglary sprees.
“Using the dashboard you could easily see that it was happening on Thursday nights, so we let the officer know, next Thursday night make sure you’re in this part of town, keep an eye out for this kind of activity,” she says.
Citizens can see the maps and trends for themselves through the city’s web site. Police hope it helps make connections between events and encourage people to contact them.
“They can be more alert, if there is a rash of burglaries happening nearby they can be more alert to strangers in the neighborhood and what’s going on,” says Hoback.
“We can’t be everywhere at every moment, so we need their help to do it and that’s part of that strategic policing is getting the community’s involvement and their buy-in,” says Capt. Dean Elliot.
In order to protect victims, the public won’t be able to see everything an officer does. Crimes are labeled by block number and not specific address on the site citizens can access.