36 FUTURE TRENDS IN POLICING For each offender in the program, the police department compares the locations of monitored offenders with the locations of reported crimes on a daily basis to see if there is any overlap. If a match is observed, officers can follow up to see if the offender was involved in the crime. The police department also attempts to prevent offenders from reverting to a criminal lifestyle by connecting the offenders with service providers. The principal purpose of the program is to deter offenders from committing crimes. To maximize the deterrent effect of the program, officers clearly articulate to offenders how the program works and what penalties they will suffer for noncompliance. The police department also views the program as a cost saving measure. It costs about $4 per day to monitor each offender—significantly less than housing offenders in jail. In both Charlotte and Greensboro, Miller reports that the offenders under monitoring have had an extremely low recidivism rate. Using Technology to Help Fill Personnel Gaps In Camden, New Jersey, a city with extreme financial problems and historically high crime rates, the police department is using a mix of technology to fight crime. A combination of forfeiture money, a grant from the COPS Office, and state grants allowed the department to develop a Real Time Crime Center. The system fuses different camera systems and allows officers to conduct “virtual patrols” of critical areas, including open-air drug markets. Camden Chief Scott Thomson said that the virtual patrols “allow us to get a return from officers who are on light duty.” Another component of the Real Time Crime Center is the city’s gunshot detection system. If a gunshot is detected, the cameras in the crime center are moved to record either the location the gun shot was detected or avenues of ingress or egress near the shooting location. “One of the things we found when we installed our gunshot detection system was that about 30 percent of actual gunshots that occurred were never reported because residents had become so desensitized to the sound,” Thomson said. “In one instance, the system detected shots, we were able to quickly respond to its precise location, and we arrested one of our top 10 most violent individuals and recovered five handguns.” Camden also uses license plate readers for several purposes. Officers can flag vehicles that have been used in a drug transaction, and if the license plate readers later get a “hit” on that plate, an alert is sent to officers to inform them that the vehicle has been involved in drug activity.
Future Trends in Technology 37 In San Francisco, Chief Greg Suhr has focused on bringing technology to the department. SFPD’s Chief Information Officer, Susan Merritt, said that “despite San Francisco’s proximity to Silicon Valley, we realized we were way behind.” The police department has established a virtual clearinghouse of crime data called the “Crime Data Warehouse,” which is a webbased portal that allows police employees to access 24 different criminal justice information systems. The system is arranged so that officers do not need any special equipment to access the warehouse—just an Internet connection. “With our Crime Data Warehouse, officers are able to do incident reporting from the field, so they don’t have to drive back to the station. Anything they can do at the station, they can do on a laptop computer, police vehicle computer, or on their department-issued smart phone, which all patrol officers will have by year’s end,” Merritt said. Suhr launched a project in conjunction with the California Department of Justice to deploy smart phones with the California Law Enforcement Telecommunications Systems (CLETS) data access in addition to access to the Crime Data Warehouse. This initiative has enhanced officers’ mobility even further. “Officers are now creating incident reports, running suspects, checking mug shots, taking victim statements—all on the streets with the use of the new smart phones,” Merritt added. TAPPING INTO THE NEW GENERATION OF TECH-SAVVY OFFICERS Many police chiefs are noticing the technological skills that many young officers bring to their departments. Chief Ray Schultz of Albuquerque said that “this is a generation that understands technology and wants to use it.” He provided an example of how a department can harness the technology skills of officers: “About six months ago I was out on patrol and I stopped to back up one of our officers, who is 23 years old. He was on his smartphone, and I learned that he had written his own application to access criminal records and photographs of inmates booked into the county jail. He had written it himself. “We took that application and spread it throughout the organization, and it didn’t cost us anything. Another officer is working on an app so we can look on our smartphones and watch the real-time GPS tracking of offenders on probation or parole. We also have an app under development to map restraining orders. And we have automated our crime mapping process, so every day the crime maps are updated automatically.”