Digital innovation in policing: Insights from the 2023 IACP Technology Conference

Lenny Nerbetski

On May 24th, I participated in a conversation at the 2023 IACP Technology Conference with Christian Quinn, Major (Ret.), from the Fairfax County Police Department and Major Mike O’Connor (Ret.) from the Atlanta Police Department titled Digital Investigative Capability is No Longer Optional.

For those unable to attend, check out the highlights below and an exclusive conversation between Christian, Mike, and Morgan Hitzig, our Strategy & Operations lead, here

The next digital investigation revolution

Analyzing digital evidence is foundational to modern law enforcement. "If you don't have digital investigative capability, you really can't work conventional street crime, you almost can't work anything,” said Christian Quinn. 

But many law enforcement entities are still grappling with storing, managing, and analyzing different kinds of data. To keep their cases moving forward, investigators need to leverage body worn camera video, cell photo data, PDFs, responses to warrant requests, telemetry and infotainment systems in vehicles, and more. That’s in addition to the data that law enforcement already has living in their record management system (RMS), computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system, arrest and warrant databases, evidence management system, and traffic citation systems. 

The next stage is connection. “We did a great job of buying systems that store data, and not connecting any of it,” said Mike O’Connor. “We didn't really understand how we needed to connect information. We have all these disparate data systems within agencies and none of it talks to each other. . . We need to be able to see it in one place [and] it needs to make sense to everyone in the department. That's probably going to be the next revolution.”

Additional reading: Peregrine’s commitment to 90-day deployment

Real-time data for patrol officers

Quinn posits – and I agree – that patrol officers, the backbone of any department, are critical when it comes to 1) widespread adoption of a technology within a department and 2) effectively leveraging real-time data. I’ve written about the importance of senior leadership meetings, and how our customers are using Peregrine to support their patrol officers. Here’s an excerpt detailing our work with the Livermore, CA police department:

[Peregrine] provides necessary information to patrol officers in the field, which has led to successful arrests and interruption of crime” says Captain Reynolds. At Peregrine, we know first-hand that giving patrol officers complete operational and historical context — in the field — can save lives.  

O’Connor, in turn, emphasized the importance of accessible technology. If a tool or platform isn’t easy to use, public safety personnel won’t reach for it in the most critical moments. O’Connor continued: “When they’re in the field, patrol officers must remain aware of their surroundings. . . They can't be heads down into an app that's too difficult to use or that jeopardizes their safety, but they still need the right information to do their job.”

“We need tools that make processes simple for everyone.”

Additional reading: Data rich but still information poor

Using forensic technology to enhance violent crime investigations

Quinn also appropriately noted that many, many communities have experienced an increase in crimes involving firearms. One major piece of gun violence are ghost guns – unserialized firearms that are more challenging to trace when used in the commission of crimes. Case in point: From January 2019 to May 2021, law enforcement agencies in the Major City Chief’s Association reported a 408% increase in crimes involving a ghost gun – one important aspect of overall gun violence.

The nature of ghost guns means law enforcement need equally sophisticated technology to identify the producers of ghost guns. Forensically linking gun violence incidents through the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN), operated by Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is an important first step.  

Quinn explained that when a gun is fired, each shell has a “mark [that] is microscopic, like a fingerprint. You can submit and search that mark against the repository of known firearms” to potentially identify the possessor using technology like the ATR’s E-trace system. Identifying the possessor of a firearm used in a crime provides tremendous value when working to solve the case.

To holistically identify and address the drivers of gun crimes and producers of ghost guns, ballistic data needs to be synergized with comprehensive case and incident data. Doing so may allow investigators to uncover a group of affiliated individuals all using ghost guns or better understand locations where those guns are used. They may be able to link a known possessor of a ghost gun to a suspected manufacturer or connect their cases to shootings outside of their jurisdiction, which can further an investigation.

Additional reading: Reducing violent crime across jurisdictions with Peregrine’s unified, inter-agency search capabilities

The future of law enforcement technology is here now

Today, more than ever, our communities expect law enforcement to leverage data and information efficiently, delivering effective and targeted public safety services. From optimizing the allocation of officers to preventing crimes proactively, to utilizing cutting-edge technology to solve cases and providing closure to victims, we cannot afford to overlook the immense benefits that advanced law enforcement technology brings to your department.

Embrace the possibilities that lie ahead and join the ranks of forward-leaning law enforcement agencies that are embracing the potential of advanced technology. We want to help your department elevate its operations, enhance trust between your officers and the communities they serve, and ensure a safer future everyone. Together, we can make a lasting impact on the safety and well-being of our communities.

Want to learn more about Peregrine? Give us a shout. For more on technology in modern policing, check out a conversation with Christian Quinn and Mike O’Connor here.

About Lenny Nerbetski

Currently serving as Senior Law Enforcement Advisor for Peregrine, Captain Lenny Nerbetski (ret.) has approximately 29 years sworn law enforcement experience with the New Jersey State Police and the Albuquerque Police Department, primarily in investigations, intelligence and analysis. During his law enforcement career, Captain Nerbetski served for several years on the FBI Newark Joint Terrorism Task Force, as the Executive Officer of the New Jersey Regional Operations Intelligence Center and Commander of the Albuquerque Police Department Real Time Crime Center.

Better, faster
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Better, faster
in 90 days