California Police Chief- Fall 2013 - Page 11

Although Monrovia has yet to adopt the Nixle service, Hunt is looking at other ways to maintain a high level of police service in the face of fewer resources and funds. Soon, the Monrovia PD will add a crime-mapping capability on its web site, allowing residents to be vigilant about crime activity occurring in their neighborhood. Plans also are in the works to make calls for service available online live, reducing calls from residents to the watch commander when they see squad cars roll up to a crime or accident scene. account keeping residents as plugged in as possible into crime and public safety issues. And like many other law enforcement agencies, Arcadia uses the Nixle communication tool that allows police to send out messages and alerts over cell phones, e-mail and the Web to residents who’ve signed up for the service. Nixle is a state-of-the art way for police to warn residents of recent crime activity, a description of a suspect or missing child or person, traffic congestion – anything they want. “At a time when we don’t have the funding for large resources, we have to embrace and use technology to the best of our advantage,” Guthrie says. Social media tools like Facebook have allowed the Arcadia Police Department not only to quickly reach residents, but also to quickly hear from them. “The community feels more in touch with our police department because we’re communicating with them – sometimes even faster than their neighbors and the news media,” Guthrie says. Hunt has his eyes on something even bigger: introducing digital online reporting and video conferencing reporting to free up police officers from having to take crime reports while in the field. Currently, such so-called “cold reports” – cases with no suspects, leads or evidence — are hugely time consuming, and make up the majority of reports taken daily by police agencies throughout the state. A police agency has yet to introduce the use of videoconference technology for taking reports, according to Hunt. Monrovia aims to be the first, he says. With the new videoconferencing technology, an officer would be able to peer into a laptop or mobile device and take down information from a victim without having to leave the police station. A victim of, say, a vehicle burglary could upload photos to the detective, saving a lot of time for both parties. “We keep losing personnel, so we have to keep looking for ways to do things more efficiently,” Hunt says. “I think a lot of law enforcement agencies are headed this way.” When they do, both Hunt and Guthrie are sure to find them quickly – with just a click of the mouse. • Fall 2011 | 11