Part one of a three-part series

I recently spent some time with two LAPD officers and their actions reminded me that when field officers have real communications work to do, they reach for their smart phone. After receiving several messages over the radio, the officers used cell phones to make calls and get more information. They even used Google Maps, once to view the house they were going to and another time to direct responding units to the precise part of the house and block to cover.

It’s ironic that while these officers can engage in social media, watch videos and browse the Internet on their personal smart phones, they aren’t provided the same – or better – wireless technologies out in the field. In fact, these officers asked me why they couldn’t access criminal records, photos and printing capabilities – all tasks that smart phones are capable of accomplishing. When I explained that the type of systems integration they’re looking for exists, I had their attention.

Everyone in law enforcement is all too aware that as budgets continue to shrink, departments are being forced to make some tough decisions. During times like these, understanding the basic systems of communications that link officers to each other and to the information they need in the field can take a backseat to what is seen as more pressing budgetary issues. But once decision makers realize what field cops instinctively know – that smart phones are the future – departments will move quickly to adopt the technologies that already exist.

Long Term Evolution (LTE) technologies will soon offer exactly what field officers are looking for, with open architecture that lets any communications device work on a secure network.

With this type of technology, police officers would see multiple changes in their daily operations, including:

  • Better interagency communication during major events;
  • The capability to communicate with any public agencies on any system;
  • Public communications systems that could be set to operate with public safety in emergencies;
  • Effectively operating and connecting any type of communications devices, from cell phones to radios and telephones, on the same system;
  • The ability to connect officers to any communications network through an open architecture gateway that is not propriety. In other words, you could have more than an original equipment manufacturer has available on their system alone; and
  • A software drive that can be updated to future LTE, 4G and 3G technologies.

This is a technology overhaul that’s long been needed in the area of public safety. It’s time to start the revolution.

This post is part one of a three-part series.
Part two is here: “Brave New World: Wireless Access Technologies and the Impact on Policing”
Part three is here: “3G, 4G, LTE – What Does It Mean?”

Mike Bostic

Mike Bostic was with the LAPD for 34 years. He held every significant command up to Assistant Chief. Mr. Bostic is currently working in communications technology/public safety at Raytheon. He will also provide the closing keynote address on Wednesday Jan 12th at The SMILE (Social Media the Internet and Law Enforcement) Conference in Santa Monica. Find him on Twitter – @mikebostic