Just a few decades ago, officers had to drive to the nearest phone booth if they wanted to contact dispatch. Today, officers have satellites, radios, cell phones and other forms of technological communication surrounding them, allowing them to remain in contact at all times. A huge change from the past, yes, but sometimes one we take for granted.
Technology allows our officers to accomplish so much more in significantly less time. And as the limits of technology are pushed and new beneficial accessories appear, it is tempting to surround ourselves with the latest and greatest. While there is no problem with the technology itself, instructors need to remember not to become too reliant on tech.
But before we go over that, here is a list of current and up-and-coming technological advances your department should have or consider:
Recording Equipment—Whether a department needs an audio recorder or both visual and audio, there are a variety of products designed to fit each need. Today’s audio recorders are small and slim, whereas interview recording devices utilize smaller cameras and systems, yet produce higher-resolution video.
Communication—As mentioned before, communication devices have changed drastically. Gone are the days of payphones and pagers now that cell phones and stronger radios have entered the field. These technologies allow information to be relayed faster and easier than before.
Simulator Training—Instructors can use simulators for running trainees through scenarios, rather than finding actors or having trainees take turns being the actor. Simulators provide a safe, controlled teaching environment with repeatable training, thus preventing inconsistent training and potential training scars.
Body Cameras—This accessory is currently available worldwide, though the design and function continue to evolve. These cameras are attached to the officer’s chest and record everything the officer sees, says and does. While many large departments implement body cameras, it will be a matter of time until all departments do.
Smart Duty Belts—Imagine a belt that also monitors an officer’s vitals and notifies dispatch when the officer’s gun is removed from the holster. Fortunately, this idea is no longer science fiction, but something that is in the works. Imagine how this additional information can help serve your officers and department as a whole.
While improving technology allows officers to accomplish incredible feats, instructors need to make sure it doesn’t take over training time. Meaning: simulated training scenarios should be supplemented with real-life training drills. Officers should also train with the technology they will have in the field, but should also train without it, should an instance occur when the technology is not available or functioning. Training in this manner allows officers to be better, smarter and safer without completely relying on tech.
To learn more about how technology is impacting law enforcement, download VirTra Subject Matter Expert TJ Alioto’s 2021 ILEETA presentation.