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FRESH IDEAS IN PUBLIC SAFETY


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      • Generating Objective Digital Evidence With Body-Worn Cameras

        Published Oct 05 2017, 9:16 PM by Jason Hutchens
        • Body Worn Camera
        • Law Enforcement

        A variety of body-worn camera (BWC) benefits have been outlined since they’ve been thrust into the spotlight over the past couple years. In this series, we will be breaking down three primary components of successfully using the digital evidence BWCs produce in court, based on a piece from our recently released Digital Evidence 101 white paper bundle.

        In this post we will focus on the generation of objective evidence and what needs to be considered when evaluating body-worn camera solutions to accomplish that.

        Body-Worn Cameras Are About More Than Just Video

        “The utilization of body-worn camera video and audio recordings at trial can provide the court with the actual statements of officers, suspects, and others that might not otherwise be admissible in court based upon hearsay concerns, or might not get sufficient consideration if there are conflicting memories of the statements.”

        • The IACP National Law Enforcement Policy Center. Body-Worn Cameras.

        BWCs have been at the forefront of capturing video evidence for agencies. When evaluating these devices, considerations such as a camera’s field of view and wearability are important to understand before implementing. But don’t forget audio capture and quality.

        As multimedia continues to be a substantial part of case evidence, video is only one component. While flexible mounting and physical camera design can be instrumental in ensuring officers of all sizes can accurately capture visually what happened, audio evidence can provide valuable context for an officer’s actions when heard alongside that video. But capturing audio is not straightforward.

        An audio recording is going to pick up ambient noises – a dispatcher on the radio, a car’s siren, other people talking or shouting in the background. All of these contribute to providing valuable context to how a situation unfolded. But since many BWCs are located near a remote speaker microphone, they can be highly susceptible to radio audio overpowering other noise and things that were said on scene.

        Suddenly, the digital evidence isn’t as helpful in accurately portraying how an officer perceived a situation. This kind of interference can affect the usefulness of the digital evidence in prosecution and defense decisions. When deciding on a BWC ensure that video isn’t the only thing you’re evaluating. The ability of the camera to record audio as it was heard on scene can be vitally important in accurately portraying how an incident unfolded to the courts, or to the public.

        Check back in as we dive into two other components of successfully using BWC digital evidence in court. If you can’t wait and want the full paper on how to successfully use body-worn video evidence in court now, visit our Digital Evidence 101 page for that exclusive content plus much more!

        Jason Hutchens is the Former Director of the Planning and Assessment Division at Indiana Homeland Security, and is a Current Public Safety Industry Expert at Motorola Solutions.

      • Maps, Charts and Graphs, Oh My! Getting Your Personnel Familiar With Being Crime Analysts

        Published Sep 26 2017, 5:09 PM by Daniel Seals
        • Intelligence
        • Law Enforcement

        So you have all this data, now what to do with it. This is your next stumbling block along the road to true intelligence-led policing. Many agencies make the mistake of thinking data itself is intelligence, this is simply not the case. Very little is further from the truth when it comes to intelligence-led policing. Data is the brick and mortar upon which intelligence is built, but like lone bricks, without being put together properly, it will not support anything.  

        So, how do you put all of your newly found data together so that it can work for you and your staff? There are a number of ways to present your data; the best rule of thumb for this is to know your staff. How does your staff best understand data, maps, charts, graphs, etc.? Most cops are visual beings, so if you are unsure of the answer to the previous question, maps are a great place to start. So let’s use maps as our example. Cops know their beats; start with a map showing the crime in each beat/zone for the last month. But don’t stop there. Do the same map for the last three months for comparison and the same months last year. When you have created these maps, it will be clear that your jurisdiction has crime patterns. Don’t keep the maps for yourself, distribute them to your staff and teach them how to recognize the normal patterns from the abnormal.  

        Charts, maps, graphs and any other way you choose to distribute your intelligence can be intimidating to your staff. Keep in mind, they have never seen information presented to them in this way and moreover they have never been expected to fully embrace something so new and so foreign in a quick manner. I have found that using staff meetings to first teach your command staff how to understand this new approach, is the best way to introduce them. If you can wow them, they will spread the word to the rest of the staff.  

        So, how to wow them… show them the crime patterns we spoke of earlier, show them that the crime in your jurisdiction is predictable from year to year and therefore, month to month. I did just this in one of my very first staff meetings. I presented a graph that showed that our part one crimes for the last three years were predictable within a variable of 25 to 30 crimes, some within 5 to 10 crimes. You want an attention getter, that’s an attention getter! Within 15 minutes of the conclusion of the staff meeting, I had front line officers at my office door asking about my “crystal ball”.

        Stay tuned as I dive into using intelligence-led policing to break the monotonous mold in my next blog. Until then, check out our crime analytics resource site to learn more about how you can properly evaluate solutions that can put the “crystal ball” in your hands too.

        Read Part 1Part 2 and Part 3 of this series.

        Daniel (D.J.) Seals is a Former Crime Analyst and Detective, and Current Public Safety Industry Expert at Motorola Solutions.

      • Simplifying The Officer Body-Camera Experience: Get The Most Out Of Your Investment

        Published Sep 21 2017, 7:22 PM by Chi Tran
        • Body Worn Camera
        • Law Enforcement

        “With the introduction of Artificial Intelligence, we can do things like turn our body-worn cameras (BWCs) into sensors that continually monitor their environments.” This is the future, according to Dan Law, Chief Data Scientist here at Motorola Solutions - and he’s not wrong. Expectations for public safety are increasing and requiring technological innovation that looks beyond a single device.

        Before purchasing BWCs, you should recognize how this new piece of technology can impact frontline officers’ ability to successfully do their job and protect the community. To get the best results, reduce complexity, and ultimately help law enforcement better achieve their mission, we are outlining the most important things to consider when evaluating a BWC solution in this four part blog series.

        Consideration #4: Technology Will Progress. Will The Value Of Your Investment?

        BWCs are the next step toward more data-driven policing. But technology will continue to evolve and with it, the tendency for complexity. Thus, devices, networks and applications capable of working together seamlessly in an ecosystem will become even more important.

        When considering a BWC purchase and how it will affect your department’s ability to grow, the ecosystem it is a part of is just as important as its wearability, operability, and intelligent management features. From this viewpoint, the BWC transforms from a singularly purposed device into a part of a true policing solution platform. Therefore, it becomes critical to weigh a BWC vendor’s total breadth of expertise delivering larger value to organizations.

        Some of the simple things to note include the ability to expand your video beyond body-worn cameras. What about in-vehicle cameras, helmet mounting options, fixed surveillance experience and interview-room options? Does the solution offer the ability to integrate across those different touchpoints?

        Now think bigger. Think about the potential of artificial intelligence, facial recognition and data analysis to not only make the body-worn camera a passive video capture device, but an active partner for officers in the field.

        Be sure to check out our previous three articles on the most important considerations for deploying body-worn cameras to simplify the officer experience. If you want the full brief of our considerations, visit our Digital Evidence 101 page for that exclusive content plus much more!

        Read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 of this series.

        Chi Tran is an Innovation Designer & Researcher at Motorola Solutions.

      • Time To Take Out The Trash! Good Crime Analysis Relies On Clean Data

        Published Sep 19 2017, 4:19 PM by Daniel Seals
        • Intelligence
        • Law Enforcement

        So you’re getting into intelligence-led policing? But have you taken a look at your own data sets? And I mean a real good look. Over and over again I see departments make mistakes by going out and purchasing mapping software, intelligence software, and the like, put it immediately to use and then disagree with the output they receive. I speak to many of these departments, and after a quick look into their main data sets I find that they are falling into the old adage of garbage in, garbage out.

        So if you fall into the category I just described, you are by far not alone. As a matter of fact I would venture to say that you are in the majority. I even made the same mistakes when I began our intelligence-led policing initiative. I remember I was so excited to get going with our new software that I never bothered to really look at the data that I was putting into the system. After all, I had been using our records management system for 20 years, surely the data in it is correct, right? What I found was a resounding answer of no, it was not good data. Now don't get me wrong the basics of the data were correct, the type of crime, suspect, victim, things like that were solid. What was not so correct, however, was our mapping data and how our crime types translated into our software. Let's talk about a couple of things that you can do to turn your bad data into good data.

        First let's talk about mapping. Very few mapping systems, whether you are using GIS or some other type of mapping system, are always spot on. The reasons for these inaccuracies vary widely. From inaccurate GIS mapping at the onset, to duplicate addresses in your city that are only separated by a North-South or East-West designation, or simply user mistake at time of input.  Although I could not change these map points in my records management system (which would typically be your most logical fix), I could change them in our software. With just a few steps I was able to take my map, with an average of 150 inaccuracies a month, and turn it into a completely accurate crime map, with no inaccuracies.

        Now that we have fixed your mapping problem, let's talk about making sure your crime types are in the proper categories in order for you to get the proper Intel. Depending upon county, state, or locality, crime terms can vary widely. For instance, in my state, we don't use the term larceny, we use theft instead. We don't use the term embezzlement; we use a variety of codes under fraud. While these computer systems seem to do it all, it is our duty to make sure that our information is laid out correctly within our systems. If the data is in the wrong category, when you run a report on a specific crime type, you will be missing data in your final report. Luckily, our software allowed us to make crime type adjustments and rules for translation from our records management system. But similarly to the mapping, if your software doesn’t have that feature, you may otherwise have to make those adjustments directly to the records themselves.

        Without accurate data, it is impossible to do the crime analysis that aids your intelligence-led policing initiatives. This year let's make sure to strengthen our actionable intelligence by cleaning up our bad data.

        Coming up next we’ll discuss how to get your agency personnel familiar with using all the new capabilities at your disposal with a purpose-built crime analytics solution. Until then, check out our crime analytics resource site to learn more about how you can properly evaluate solutions so your mapping issues are a thing of the past.

        Read Part 1 and Part 2 of this series. 

        Daniel (D.J.) Seals is a Former Crime Analyst and Detective, and Current Public Safety Industry Expert at Motorola Solutions.

      • Simplifying The Officer Body-Camera Experience: Officers Can't Afford To Be Distracted

        Published Sep 15 2017, 5:34 PM by Chi Tran
        • Body Worn Camera
        • Law Enforcement

        As any police agency can attest, new technology deployments can have unexpected impacts that negate a solution’s intended value. This is no different for body-worn cameras (BWCs). Deploying a solution that changes your officer’s existing workflow stands to also leave them vulnerable and potentially in danger.

        Before purchasing BWCs, you should recognize how this new piece of technology can impact frontline officers’ ability to successfully do their job and protect the community. To get the best results, reduce complexity, and ultimately help law enforcement better achieve their mission, we are outlining the most important things to consider when evaluating a BWC solution in this four part blog series.

        Consideration #3: Manual Processes Pre-Occupy Officers

        While in-field tagging can reduce the time officers would spend back in the station, it can potentially reduce alert patrol time and lead to difficulties compiling evidence later if video data isn’t standardized or has to be manually added.

        Instead, a truly efficient process is one that keeps officers on the streets and engaged with the community while minimizing distractions. Tight technology integration that automatically associates metadata and other pertinent information with video can provide the necessary context to a clip while also making it more efficient to find and share that video later. This integration could be a BWC that can automatically associate capture location data and officer ID from an integrated radio, or an incident type and number automatically integrated from a computer-aided dispatch and records management system.

        Automated controls over video footage tags and metadata can also ensure standardization for grouping, filtering and searching for content when it’s needed later. This means that not only are your officers safer while in the field, but also waste less time before or after shifts on administrative tasks.

        Stay tuned as we outline our next consideration for deploying the right BWCs for your officers. If you can’t wait and want to know our four considerations now, check out our Digital Evidence 101 page for that exclusive content plus much more!

        Check out Part 1 and Part 2 of this series.

        Chi Tran is an Innovation Designer & Researcher at Motorola Solutions.

      • Getting Started: The Critical First Step For Implementing An Intelligence-Led Policing Model

        Published Sep 12 2017, 8:16 PM by Daniel Seals
        • Intelligence
        • Law Enforcement

        Compiling many different information sources is key to making intelligence-led policing work. So many times police departments are satisfied and content with the information they currently have. We tend to live in an informational world contained within the four walls of our departments, ignoring outside informational sources. Obviously the most immediate source of information will be your in house records management system which should be used in conjunction with those notebooks your officers keep with them on the road. Those little notebooks very rarely get included in your department's intelligence data, but are very often the most accurate source of direct intelligence involving the daily workings of your community. 

        Unfortunately, there still seems to be a divide between county Sheriff’s departments and municipal Police Departments, floating an ideal of “us and them”. This must be broken down in order to compile the next most important data set; that of your neighboring agencies. The criminal element within your jurisdiction does not stop committing crimes because they come to your city/county limits. We all understand that our criminals are also our neighboring agencies criminals. Criminals are irrespective of jurisdictional lines and do not care what color uniform you wear. As a matter of fact, it is in the criminal’s best interest to move their criminal escapades around. They know we do not share information as freely as we should. We must combat this by breaking down the informational barriers between departments. By sharing local intelligence, we can finally act as one law enforcement body and not individual agencies.

        After you have a grasp and have taken full advantage of all of your local intelligence sources, it is time to... yes I am going to say it… reach out to your state and federal sources. If we thought the perceived divide between local agencies was wide, then the perceived divide between local agencies and state and federal agencies must be the Grand Canyon. However, since 9/11, state and federal agencies have begun to understand the great impact local intelligence has on national security. Case in point; it was discovered, after the fact, that the terrorists involved in 9/11 drove through the state of Georgia. Not only did they drive through, they were traffic-stopped a number of times. Even though some of the terrorists were already on a national watch list, they were never flagged because so many of our smaller local systems were not directly linked with the national system. Reach out to your state and local agencies, join their intelligence sharing meetings/e-mail servers, and don’t just read what they send out - contribute!

        Would 9/11 have happened as it was planned had one of those traffic stops flagged the terrorists? Have we really moved on toward sharing intelligence? What steps are you taking? Are they really forward steps, or just “going through the motions”? It is up to you to reach out to all possible intelligence sources, compile them, make that information accessible to your stakeholders and put intelligence-led policing into action!

        Stay tuned as I dive into your next step when implementing intelligence-led policing in my next blog - taking out the trash. Until then feel free to check out our crime analytics resource site to learn more about how a purpose-built crime analytics solution can aid your intelligence-led policing efforts by helping you discover new crime patterns hidden in your data.

        Read Part 1 of this series: The Intelligence-Led Policing Definition: Adopting Data-Driven Policing

        Daniel (D.J.) Seals is a Former Crime Analyst and Detective, and Current Public Safety Industry Expert at Motorola Solutions.

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