Exclusive: Increasing public safety through community policing

community policing

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Utilising video surveillance technology from vendors such as BriefCam can aid community policing on a day-to-day basis.

In today’s digital and data-driven world, access to information is becoming increasingly critical – especially because criminal efforts often focus on the exploitation of sensitive data. Hacking sensitive databases and systems or leveraging information technology to coordinate attacks, data intelligence is powering today’s criminals. And, while the overall crime rate in the US has decreased, because of the considerable shift towards sophisticated data-driven crime, law enforcement relies more than ever on actionable intelligence.

The growing emphasis on Big Data is one driver of the adoption of community policing, law enforcement strategies founded on police transparency, community involvement and open exchange of public safety information. Many municipal and law enforcement agencies are embracing information technologies, developing community policing programs and fostering open and constructive collaboration with local residents and businesses to support public safety initiatives and increase productivity throughout the community.

Information technology integration

The integration of technology in law enforcement has developed rapidly in recent years. Police rely on technological solutions to store and process information and intelligence, running sophisticated software that helps advance investigations and activities based on data. Reliance on data-driven solutions also presents a way for police to connect with their communities and involve local residents and business owners in law enforcement efforts.

Video surveillance is a good example of this. Video can be a critical source of data for police – especially when paired with video content analysis solutions, which empower law enforcement to accelerate investigations, enhance situational awareness and uncover citywide trends and patterns over time. By cooperating with police and providing video recordings or access to live feeds, business owners can curb and deter violence or crime in their workplaces, while also providing critical data for law enforcement.

Video content analytics is becoming a key competitive differentiator for cities because it enables city officials and urban planners to make intelligent decisions based on data and insights from video footage. Whether from video analysis or other smart technologies, access to data enables intelligent decision making, empowering the city to offer improved quality of life to current residents and proactively prepare for population growth and city expansion.

In the City of Detroit, for instance, the police collaborated with local gas stations in a crime-fighting initiative called Project Green Light Detroit. Police install powerful, high resolution video cameras enabling them to better monitor and respond in real-time to threats and emergencies. Law enforcement benefits from the video data, which it can analyse to search for evidence or information or leverage for triggering real-time alerts based on predefined conditions.

Smart technology supports community policing efforts, benefitting law enforcement and local businesses and residents by improving neighbourhood safety; reinforcing police efforts to deter and solve crime; supporting urban development and traffic optimisation with long-term analysis and trend intelligence and empowering businesses with intelligence to enable long-term economic growth.

Increased outreach and immersion

The United States Conference of Mayors delivered a report on national police/community relations, finding that, in a number of states, fewer than half of residents regard police as “doing a good job.” Improving trust between police and their communities is critical. The report recommends building this trust through daily interaction – or immersion – between police officers and the public, increasing communal awareness of law enforcement activities. Law enforcement officers are being educated to prioritise regular contact with the locals in different neighbourhoods and commercial institutions.

Police can reinforce their roles in the community by hosting or participating in local sports, social and charity functions, thereby demonstrating their commitment and involvement as invested members of the community. This immersion helps create avenues of trust which encourage citizens to share information with police openly.

Communication and cultural sensitivity

Increased engagement with the community isn’t enough on its own – to build trust, police must optimise the ways they communicate with the community, as well. A key component in reinforcing positive communication is cultural sensitivity. Police need to understand the nuanced micro-societies within their cities, the various backgrounds of residents and business owners and the types of life experiences typical within local populations. This can help police departments identify social cues they could otherwise miss and exchange information more seamlessly with their constituents.

Community policing strategies

Community policing strategies also encourage the “transactional model of communication,” meaning that, when law enforcement officers are confronting or speaking to a community member, they must do so in a way that makes the individual feel they are taking part in an exchange of information – not an impromptu interrogation.

The ultimate result of respectful dialogue, smart technology integration and police immersion in local activities, is a robust and respectful collaboration between law enforcement and the public, enabling safer communities. Partnering with the public, police are empowered with critical data for preventing crimes, accelerating investigations and closing cases, supporting their city’s transformation into a safe and Smart City.


This article was published in the November 2020 edition of International Security Journal. Pick up your FREE digital copy here

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