It was no surprise that one of the common themes at this year’s International Association of Chiefs of Police annual conference in Philadelphia (IACP 2017) was the future of policing, and specifically how technology will play a pivotal role in shaping – if not changing – how police officers do their job.
From face recognition technology, drones, high bandwidth networks, to data-driven approaches to combatting violent crimes, such as predictive analytics and AI backed systems, such as autonomous robots with the ability to complement and enhance human capabilities, there doesn’t appear to be any area of police work that will not be impacted by technology, including incident reporting.
This revelation is not new to us. Nuance Dragon voice and language technologies have been transforming the way people work for more than twenty years, and is already shaping how police officers do their job, especially when it comes to a huge part of everyday policing – creating incident reports.
In fact, we’ve been working with police officers across the country to integrate technology into their workday, and now thousands are using solutions like Dragon Law Enforcement speech recognition technology as a better way to work.
From the police officers already using speech recognition technology, to those we visited with at IACP, one thing is clear: these three trends will shape a critical area of their job – incident reporting and other police paperwork.
1. Technology integration into police workflows is becoming the norm.
The reliance on keyboard-driven in-car systems, such as the MDT (mobile data terminal) has created not only ergonomic issues for police officers, but also safety ones. While cramped conditions in patrol cars can cause minor discomfort from having to twist and shift in the seat to use the MDT, or worse – lower back pain, it’s the “heads-down” approach of using the in-car system that has many of the Police Chiefs we speak with most concerned.
And with reports from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund showing that 56% of line of the duty deaths reported from 2011-2015 occurred during patrol, or while officers were conducting administrative activities, it’s not surprising that more departments want technology, like speech recognition, to help reduce distraction.
Now, instead of manually typing, officers are using their voice and staying “heads-up” while conducting common tasks, license plate lookups, and are more alert and aware of their surroundings – and more importantly, safer on patrol.
2. Ongoing modernizing of field documentation processes and standards.
Police officers file hundreds of reports each week, so it’s no wonder that incident reporting, review and submission remains a significant administrative challenge for police departments nationwide, consuming both resources, time and not to mention money. In fact, a police sergeant can spend upwards of 45% of his or her workday on paperwork.
Regardless of time or cost constraints, police paperwork isn’t going away anytime soon. Departments need to meet specific criteria for accuracy and timeliness; and failure to do so can lead to inaccurate documentation, missed deadlines or worse – release of persons in custody.
Couple these reporting challenges with updates in reporting standards, such the move from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program over to the National Incident Based Reporting System (NIBRS), which will become the standard crime data collection platform by 2021, and documentation demands weigh heavy on police departments.
Not surprisingly, many of the police departments we speak with say having a solution that can streamline incident reporting – and move criminal proceedings along, while meeting compliance and reporting standards, is one of the most important ways technology can better help them do their job.
3. Growing trends in improving community policing
Community policing continues to be a growing focus for departments nationwide, with added attention on community listening and partnerships. And with heightened concerns in community policing making the news each day, more departments want ways to better manage interactions, time and visibility within their communities. And having police officers back at the station buried in paperwork does not help the cause.
With community visibility at the crux of modern-day policing, we’re not surprised that along better training and equipment for their officers, departments are embracing solutions that can keep them officers more visible in the community. This trends towards improving community policing will mean that a solution that can help increase a department’s omnipresence will be embraced by Police Chiefs.
To learn how Nuance is enabling law enforcement professionals to improve the efficiency of – and create value from – the incident reporting process, please attend our Dragon Law Enforcement webinar on November 21st or December 19th at 1:00PM EST.