Mobile Technology and Police Safety
Laptops, tablets and smartphones play an essential role in an officer’s arsenal of tools. As technology advances, devices are becoming more configurable and include features that keep officers safe while they do their jobs.
Marc Claycomb, a retired Melbourne Police Department Commander in Florida who joined Panasonic Connect as Business Development Manager, recently spoke with OFFICER magazine on how mobile devices are helping law enforcement officers be more efficient while giving them better situational awareness inside and outside their patrol vehicles.
Constantly evolving technology
During his 30-year career in law enforcement, Claycomb was an avid user of technology, especially during the latter part of his career. “I was a proud Panasonic customer and a passionate Panasonic customer,” he says. “Most of our use had been with the (TOUGHBOOK) CF-53, CF-54 and eventually the CF-55 before I retired.”
Melbourne also used Panasonic’s Arbitrator in-vehicle video system when it first came to market, giving the department a complete bumper-to-bumper solution.
Claycomb admits that base officers are less concerned with how the technology works than whether it works. “The cop in the field doesn’t care about the CPU and the other cogs,” he says. “The IT guys sure do, but the cops just want to know they’re going to be connected and it’s going to work when they need it. If they happen to drop it from the car to collect the 10,000 things they need to get in and out of their mobile office, it will still work.
Technological changes are exponential from year to year, with the focus, even before the COVID-19 pandemic, on moving towards mobility. Claycomb says the goal is to get officers out of vehicles to communicate and interact with the public and become more efficient at their jobs and not just sit in their mobile offices.
“It has become even more important during the COVID pandemic, and certainly after that, as we experience incredible staff reductions,” he says. “We always hear ‘We have to do more with less.’ The reality is this: you can’t do more with less, you can do the same with less, or you can do less with less, unless you change the way you do business. »
He says that with the mobility of technology and computing, law enforcement can improve the capacity of their workforce, even when working with limited staff.
Mobile devices in the field
Through the use of handheld computers like Panasonic’s N1 Tactical, which has the ability to support scanners, officers can use it as a department-issued phone while reading driver’s licenses with the ‘device. “By doing this, you could actually walk up to a car, make contact, not leave in a single interaction while watching the driver in the car without having to pull out to go back to your car and approach at new,” he said. said. “You can complete what would normally take 11 minutes for a traffic check in two or three minutes.”
Using the TOUGHBOOK 55 or TOUGHBOOK 40’s tetra-array microphone system that includes voice dictation also helps keep officers safe. For night shift officers writing reports inside a back patrol vehicle at a closed business to maintain coverage, this feature adds an extra layer of security. “Having the ability to dictate an entire report makes it happen faster, more completely, more correctly and you are able to maintain eye contact and keep your head outside the vehicle the whole time you are writing this report,” says Claycomb.
As technology becomes more mobile, it makes working on the streets more efficient. “It gets you off the road quicker, allows you to complete the traffic stop faster, and maintains a connection with potential suspects and/or violating drivers,” he says. “I think you will continue to see that as new technologies emerge and we are able to transfer greater amounts of information, efficiency and effectiveness will also play an important role in officer safety. .”
Modularity included in new products extends device life, saves law enforcement money and allows for greater continuity. “Historically, technology advances so quickly,” says Claycomb. “In a year, it becomes obsolete”
Many agencies still rely on DVD training. The newer TOUGHBOOKs include a DVD drive, but if that service decides to get streaming-based training, they can remove the DVD drive and use that slot to install the biometrics in its place. “I can put in a smart card reader, I can put in a laser scanner,” he says. “I don’t have to buy a whole other machine to get a different layout.”
Customization also allows agencies to have one layout for patrol and another for detectives, for example.
The introduction of 5G
With smart cities and full 5G coming in the not-too-distant future, the speed of data transfer will have a big impact on how policing is done, according to Claycomb. “It allows you to have real-time transfer of information in a way that we’ve never seen,” he says. “It’s going to continue to change dramatically and even at the current rate it’s changing exponentially year over year. It’s going to increase by multiple factors once 5G comes into effect and we have the capability to use to our advantage.
Claycomb estimates that full 5G availability will become a reality within the next 2-3 years and says Panasonic Connect is already producing 5G-enabled products for law enforcement. “We’re only limited by our own creativity at this point once 5G kicks in,” he says.