Real-time technology is an incredible step forward in law enforcement operations. Just consider the following scenario:
Ofc. Valenzuela arrives on scene of a domestic disturbance and starts recording with his body-worn camera. Upon exiting his vehicle, the reporting party is pointing and shouting, “He went that way!” As Ofc. Valenzuela makes contact with the suspect in the wooded area behind the house, he notices the suspect is enraged. Ofc. Valenzuela attempts to request backup on the radio but gets cut off.
Patrol supervisor Sgt. Fairfield activates livestreaming on Ofc. Valenzuela’s device and can see a hostile subject advancing on her officer. Sgt. Fairfield requests backup to respond Code 3 to Ofc. Valenzuela’s location, which she can see on the map is behind the house. She also airs a description of the subject in case he attempts to run. Backup arrives quickly, and the officers take the suspect into custody without incident. Ofc. Valenzuela is safe.
Real-time technology can be lifesaving
Axon Respond for Devices makes the above scenario a reality. Axon Body 3 cameras offer GPS capability, making it possible to get an officer’s exact location, independent from his or her vehicle. And with real-time alerts and notifications, such as gunshot detection, you don’t have to wait for an officer to get on the radio to see he or she needs help.
“With Axon Respond for Devices, you can deploy the closest resource, whether or not they’re in their car,” says Jason Tillman, director of product marketing for real-time operations. “You can also get a better understanding of the environment out there and respond faster, which leads to safer officers and communities.”
Plus, Axon’s real-time situational awareness technology gives authorized users the ability to livestream video from Axon Body 3 cameras.
The importance of policy
While real-time technology has the potential to be lifesaving, it’s important agencies take the necessary steps when deploying it. Axon Respond represents a new era of body-worn camera technology, and thus policies will need to be adapted or developed to regulate its use.
“One of the downsides with new technology is that it’s oftentimes met with reluctance,” Tillman says. “We saw that with body cameras — until officers saw the benefits. It’s the same sort of precipice that we’re on right now with real-time technology. Nobody wants to think Big Brother is watching you all the time.”
But Axon has worked hard to make sure that’s not the case with Respond. In fact, this real-time technology comes with several features to safeguard officer privacy:
GPS and livestreaming can only be activated when the camera is recording. And recording can only begin if the user (officer) presses the event button, or if the camera is activated when a TASER weapon is armed.
Livestreaming and GPS data is only visible by authorized users, which are defined by each individual agency.
If a user activates livestreaming, the officer is notified in three ways: The LCD display screen shows a “Livestream” icon, the camera will vibrate, and the operation LED will blink purple.
Steps to successful implementation
To ensure a successful deployment of real-time technology within your agency, follow these steps (and download the full implementation plan here):
Identify key stakeholders. Assign a program manager — someone with a passion for technology who will promote correct and innovative use of real-time technology — to spearhead the deployment. You should also identify other key stakeholders who will be affected by the program and policy so that a change management strategy can be determined. Groups to consider include agency leadership, front-line officers and union or citizen contacts.
Draft a policy and determine key permission levels. Consider, in particular:
Who will have access to Axon Respond features, including location services and livestreaming — supervisors, dispatchers, crime centers?
What procedures will govern the use of location and livestreaming services?
Will access to audit trails be tightly controlled or made available to end users in part to ease their concerns about how the technology is being used?
Install and test. With any new technology, it’s best to deploy and train in waves. An initial limited number of key users, system administrators and commanders should be trained. These people will provide feedback on issues and are a resource when new users are activated and require training.
Determine an internal and external communications strategy. In our experience, agencies that are proactive in sharing these new capabilities with media and other community groups have better-received programs. Communication within your agency should also be part of the planning as it’s important to gain officer buy-in when introducing new technology.
Download our guide
This downloadable guide includes a policy and configuration checklist that can help you determine the correct settings in Axon Evidence, plus additional resources for working with the media.