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It’s no secret – significant tensions persist between law enforcement and some communities, with repeated calls to “take the police out of their forces” from activists who feel the police are quick to use violence. But a new survey shows that these views do not represent the majority of America, and now a growing number of police departments across the country are embracing mobile technology, hoping it will help bridge the gap — and simplify the work of cops in the field.
The survey – conducted by software company Mark43 that focuses on public safety – showed that most Americans support blue. 72 percent of respondents said they reject the “defunding the police” agenda, and actually want police to have more resources. This is where technology comes in. Mark43 and other companies are increasingly focusing on new technical tools that will make it easier for police to keep the peace. It’s good for everyone, says Matt Poliga, co-founder of Mark 43, noting that cops “can take advantage of all the mobile technology they have, stay in the field, and get information more quickly.”
This flow of information is now managed in many cities by mobile applications designed to give police a place in the field. One software is a dispatch tool that gives police a better idea of what they are walking to when responding to a potentially dangerous call; Information regarding the situation is automatically sent to the officer’s cell phone, to ensure that they do not sink into blindness. According to Poliga, “They can tell exactly where they have to get to, they can see which route they have to take, and then they can also have a little preview of what kind of situation they are going to deal with.”
But the company’s survey also revealed a huge gap between what most people see on the streets and what law enforcement officers actually do. It is not uncommon to see police on their phones, and most of the time they are involved in work related applications. But 32 percent of Americans say they didn’t understand that cops use their phones for work, doing everything from data entry to dispatch. “In fact, a lot of these police officers spend a lot of time doing things like communicating with other police officers, and getting important information from headquarters,” Polega says. This disparity creates a great misunderstanding, which leads to mistrust between the police and the people they serve.
Ultimately, most police departments say they expect field technology such as the applications developed by the Mark43 to expand in the coming years. And in 2023, law enforcement agencies around the world are expected to spend $18 billion on new technology. The hope is that new technology will improve police work, and hopefully there will be greater confidence in law enforcement. It’s already having a huge impact, Poliga says, claiming “we’ve seen the arrest reporting rate drop 50 percent, we’ve seen crime reporting times drop 80 percent, and this ensures that police are back in the field, serving their communities, and doing the job they’ve already registered for.” instead of paperwork.