Smarter Policing

In 1659 the Colombo Municipal Council adopted a resolution to appoint paid guards to protect the city by night. Four fat and slow soldiers were appointed to patrol the city by night. The Dutch established the earliest police stations at the northern entrance to the Fort, cause- way connecting Fort and Pettah and at Kayman’s Gate in the Pettah. The “Maduwa” or office of Disawa of Colombo, a Dutch official at Hulftsdorp, also served as a Police Station.

The Dutch surrendered to the British in 1796. Law and order was, maintained by the Military. In 1797 the office of Fiscal, which had been abolished was re-created. Governor North, obtained the concurrence of the Chief Justice and entrusted the Magistrates and Police Judges with the task of supervising the Police.

1805 police functions were defined connected with the safety, comfort and convenience of the people, prevention and detection of crime and maintenance of law and order. The City of Colombo was divided into 15 divisions and Police Constables were appointed to supervise the divisions by Act No. 14 of 1806.

The National Police

Mr. Campbell was selected by the Governor assumed duties as the Chief Superintendent of Police in 1866. In 1867, the Police Ordinance No. 16 of 1865 was amended; the designation of the Head of the Police Force was changed from Chief Superintendent to Inspector-General of Police. September 3, 1866 is considered the beginning of the country’s present Police Service. In June 1947 Sir Richard Aluvihare assumed duties as the first Sri Lankan to hold the office of Inspector General. He introduced several measures, for the welfare of the men, investigation, prevention and detection of crime, the women police, crime prevention societies, and rural volunteers, police kennels, and public relations, new methods of training and improvement of conditions of service.

The Police celebrated 150 years of service in 2016. The service consists of 43 Territorial Divisions, 67 Functional Divisions, and 432 Police Stations with strength of more than 84,000 personnel (data obtained from Police website).

The Police had to contend with the two southern insurrections and the conflict in the North till 2009. Traditional policing was challenged. Quick solutions were demanded to stamp out violent dissent, policing unarmed became unwise, unlawful practices and illegal orders invaded the working environment of the service. A whole host of new stresses are imposed now on the force and its personnel. Public demands are greater, nature more diverse, policing on roads is strenuous, escort duty of important persons another aspect, crimes are more sophisticated. While there is a measure of electronic tools to policing ultimately human minds, hands and feet are called to perform functions.

Policing differently

Key components of Smart Policing

Performance Measurement and Research Partnerships requires systematic research on the implementation and outcome of the innovations. Therefore, it requires improving on the quality of the knowledge base about effective police practices and confidence in research findings by thoroughly documenting implementation activities, improving performance measurement, and measuring outcomes using comparative evaluation strategies and designs. This is a luxury given current demands.

Outreach and collaboration

The law enforcement community has recognized that police agencies must establish effective communication and working relationships with citizens and community leaders in order to effectively perform their jobs. In most cases, it is neither possible nor advisable to go forward with a major new policing initiative (especially one that targets offenders or neighbourhoods) without public education, outreach, and “buy in.” Such a conversation does not exist at present but is advisable.

Managing organisational change

Innovation and change naturally lead to new roles, expectations, and processes both inside and outside an organisation planning for organisational change, anticipate obstacles to successful organisational change, and develop strategies to mitigate internal and external resistance to change. The current force does have personnel with the background to give the required leadership.

Strategic targeting

Carefully considering data and determining how they reflect, or can be influenced by, a criminal environment enables law enforcement decision makers to implement those strategic activities that have the greatest likelihood of achieving the desired outcome. This likely occurs at present.

Making Better Use of Intelligence and other Data and Information Systems

Comprehensive Smart Policing data goes beyond traditional police information resources; it uses police intelligence as well as data on calls for service, offenses reported arrests, and complaints that are correlated with mapped locations of various “hotspots.” Smart Policing also includes research data (e.g., offender or location based studies), data from external entities (e.g., hospital databases), and data from external justice agencies (e.g. probation and parole). This is not to espouse a police state where wiretapping and unwarranted surveillance becomes the order of the day.

Functionally, the working hours of personnel, the cumbersome paperwork, specialized knowledge to deal with complaints, the space to detox from grim and stressful tales, streamlined processes for public complaints including perhaps e based options, “specialized non Police staff” particularly on issues of domestic disputes, dedicated prosecutions branch, drastically reducing extremely valuable time standing in Court houses, cooperation between Government analyst, Attorney General, prisons, probations, court registrars, mediation boards and constant focus on service conditions are some of the necessary conditions for policing in the future.

The next century of policing

Law enforcement is about keeping society safe. So it is no surprise that as society has changed, so too has law enforcement. New technologies, new methods, and new ideas have brought significant change to the profession. But at its core, law enforcement requires the same dedication to communities, the same sense of duty and sacrifice, and the same integrity it always has.

Today, the pace of technology is accelerating faster than ever. New devices and services seem to appear every day. Our capacity to learn and to do good, and the capacity of some to do harm, is greater than ever. Technology is changing core aspects of how we interact as a society, and as society changes, so too will the tools, techniques, and concepts the men and women of law enforcement use to keep us safe.

Law enforcement innovation

Innovation is not just about the latest gadget—it's about finding new ways to do things better. Innovations can take the form of new concepts, new methods, or new tools. But innovation tends to work best when all these forms come together to enable police and law enforcement agencies to have greater insight and impact than ever before. The innovations that are shaping the future of law enforcement begin with emerging technologies that support new concepts of operations, enabling the interventions, and relationships that keep society safe.

Officers need to be able to assess their environment rapidly, leverage technology as they pursue public safety, mine data for insights on what to do next, scale up their successes, and get deeply involved in their communities.

Combining emerging technologies to gain greater awareness, faster

Smart sensors can be used to compile many different types of information to help officers do their jobs faster and more effectively. New capabilities can log locations, listen for gunshots, stream video, flag license plates, scan databases, and go on virtual patrol, allowing officers unprecedented awareness in their environments.

These capabilities can provide the raw data which more detailed analytics can use to likely enhance efficiencies and expedite investigations. Most importantly, these technologies can help officers be in the right place, at the right time.

Harnessing digital technologies to improve officer and citizen safety

New technologies and practices are developing that can help guide action in the world. Advances in areas such as 5G communication, electronics miniaturization, and augmented reality allow people to see, hear, and act in ways that were previously impossible.

For example, an officer arriving at an unfamiliar situation can now use augmented reality glasses to see pertinent information about prior calls for service from this address, find exits from a building, or see the recent crime history on the block. With this information an officer could take precautions to protect themselves and even better serve the public.

If an officer first walking up to a house saw that the occupant has a history of medical conditions, she could immediately bring an Automated External Defibrillator saving time and possibly a life. New technology can also provide digital back up in the field. Small autonomous drones, for example, can be programmed to follow officers, scout locations, and provide video streams so that no officer ever has to go into any situation truly alone.

Leveraging mountains of data to prevent crime

We live in a world awash in data. For example, each year more than eight million tips on the location of missing children must be analyzed by a team of just 25 investigators. AI is being deployed to help those investigators sift through the data and find the most likely leads to identify exploited children and reunite them with loved ones. AI is already demonstrating its value around the world by helping police in England analyze CCTV video, officers in India find 3,000 missing persons in just four days, and the Dutch to find promising leads in cold cases.

By analyzing patterns, sensor feeds, and databases of records, AI could help law enforcement identify critical places to be, find key linkages between suspects, and explore other insights hidden in a sea of data. However, with civil liberties group already calling for bans on technologies such as predictive policing and facial recognition, law enforcement needs to find uses of AI that are effective but also consistent with community expectations.

Rigorously testing what works and scaling key insights

Evidence-based policing can analyze data about the outcomes of police interactions to help find the most effective methods and tools while minimizing the use of tactics that tend to make situations worse. In an era when many police officers are being asked to do more and more with fewer and fewer resources, evidence-based policing seeks to pair them with outside assistance, such as academic researchers or computer programmers, to help focus their efforts on the most effective police work. That is exactly what the national police of New Zealand found when they established their Evidence Based Policing Centre.

A new beat to walk

Change is inevitable, but law enforcement agencies can take proactive steps to prepare for the future. Along with these future trends, changing demographics are shifting what the officer of the future will look like and how they will spend their day. Law enforcement leadership must recognize these changes not only to recruit the right personnel, but also to manage them effectively in a world shifting from bricks and mortar to bits and bytes.

And though technologies, methods, and tools may continue to evolve, the core of law enforcement remains the same: tirelessly working to improve community engagement and public safety. Innovation is likely to bring greater insight and safety than ever before, but the same professionalism and discipline that brought law enforcement through the last century will continue to be keys to success in the next one.

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