At the recent International Association Of Chief’s Of Police (IACP) convention in San Diego, American COP staffers were exposed to a broad range of cop gear, training, online education opportunities and lots more. But the thing striking home the hardest was the fact around 75 percent of the show was devoted to products neatly tucked into the “high-tech” categories. Booth after booth touted headlines causing my technology-handicapped brain cells to short out. Try as I might, I still can’t quite get a handle on what much of the stuff is — or does. But it seems there were plenty of cops there who did, since the booths were busy, with much pointing at laptop screens and mouse clicking going on.
I confess I was more comfortable looking at the latest cop cars, body armor, guns, ammo, boots and other things we old street cops are most familiar with. But, even I understand the need to embrace new technology so we can all work safer, faster and use our time more efficiently. Lower budgets may just mean an investment — no matter how painful it is — to spend in a bit of technology helping to free up beat cops to answer more radio calls. One high-tech company touted software installed at your agency, allowing citizens to basically go online to report petty crimes with no suspect info. All those “they stole my garden hose” calls that used to take up an officer’s time on the phone, or, perish the thought, an actual response to the reporting party’s address — suddenly go away.
So, this may be one of those times when spending money actually saves money. And that software was just one opportunity I noticed. I heard lots of talk about enhancing interagency communications, amazingly inexpensive drone-type camera platforms (can you say $399!) even I could fly, simple, reliable camera systems with DVR recorders an agency can easily move from beat car to beat car — and lots more. All in all, by the end of the show, I actually found myself beginning to understand what all those computer cables, flat-screen displays and guys with pocket-protectors were doing. As a matter of fact, you’re going to see a bit more of those sorts of things in our pages in the future.
We’re not turning into Computer Geek COP — but we are smart enough to recognize good ideas when we see them. Well, mostly we’re smart enough.
But we still can’t resist a good look at the hard goods we all rely on to do our jobs every day. So if there’s something hot in the “hands-on hardware” department, we’ll continue to cover it like we always have. But we may be asking you to put your thinking cap on now and again.
Speaking of which, make it a point to think while you’re out there on patrol today. Be smarter than the bad guys. Deal?