Putting pen to paper has been a part of policing since Sir Robert Peel’s first officers began walking the beat in 1829. Now – almost 200 years later – a new era in policing has begun.
Since November 2015 the Lethbridge Police Service has been working with Alberta-based Faction Four, the creators of the Smart Squad app. Smart Squad brings smartphone mobility to frontline officers to increase efficiency, reduce costs and enhance officer safety.
The Smart Squad app has been issued to approximately 70 frontline officers and is integrated with NICHE – the LPS’ current records management system. Smart Squad gives officers the ability to remotely view and search NICHE, access external law enforcement databases, write reports and assign tasks – all from their smart phone. In addition, Smart Squad adds functionality including electronic note-taking, audio statements, electronic ticketing, location awareness and targeted intelligence dissemination.
“One of the biggest benefits to the community is it allows our officers to spend more time responding and investigating calls for service and more time for proactive policing and crime prevention because they’re spending less time on administration,” said Chief Rob Davis. “The ability to eliminate putting pen to paper to hand write statements and notes, then coming back to the station to type everything into the computer, is huge for both police officers and our support staff.”
Before Smart Squad, frontline officers were spending approximately 23 per cent of their time on administrative tasks, 49 per cent responding to calls for service and 28 per cent on proactive policing. With Smart Squad, administrative time has been reduced to just 10 per cent, with 55 per cent now dedicated to responding to calls for service and 35 per cent on proactive policing initiatives. That equates to having an additional 3.3 officers and 1.8 support staff.
In 2018 LPS is projecting Smart Squad will save the organization approximately 6,300 officer hours and nearly 3,400 support staff hours.
In addition, the app enhances officer safety and intelligence by mapping recent crimes in order to increase situational awareness for frontline responders and provides real-time access to analyst-generated intelligence reports that can be filtered by area, crime type and more.
LPS and Smart Squad are currently finalizing the ability to issue electronic tickets – a measure that has been reviewed and approved by the province – and it is anticipated the first e-tickets will hit the street by the end of the year.
The Smart Squad app will be rolled-out to all frontline officers by the end of the year.
**Chief Rob Davis will be available for media interviews today at 1 p.m. at the police station. In addition, Cst. Niels Vroegindewey will provide a demonstration of the Smart Squad app. This will be the only opportunity for on-camera interviews**