Every week my team and I engage in discussions with law enforcement professionals across the country around ways to help improve incident reporting, including methods and tools they can deploy to keep officers as safe as possible.  Indeed, officer safety is a top concern among the departments we speak with, as supported by empirical data showing both the rise in traffic and ambush incidents in patrol vehicles.  The amount of tactical training,  investment in new tools and technology and the work entailed in successful community policing efforts are all aspects of keeping officers safe..

Police officers routinely maintain elevated levels of situational awareness compared to the general population – and with good reason – it’s a discipline and habit contributing to their safety in the field.  And yet, law enforcement professionals tell us one of the most vulnerable times for an officer is when he or she are parked stationery and heads-down in the vehicle completing incident reports or other paperwork.  They know moving their eyes away from their line-of sight, even for a moment, can increase risk for an accident – or worse, ambush.

While officers routinely drill on techniques to maintain situational awareness, like the proper usage of Jeff Cooper’s Color Code to properly assess and recognize patterns of behavior, the methods for incident reporting are not a tactical training method.  The unique physical and cognitive processes of leaning over a keyboard and screen to recount and manually type a report into the RMS demands attention away from an officer’s surroundings.

As agencies look to technological innovation to make police work more efficient and safer, an ecosystem of providers is helping law enforcement with smarter tools to empower officers to investigate crimes, document encounters and access critical records – all while keeping them safer.

From police incident reporting software that lets officers use their voice to complete reports and look-up license plates, to virtual tools using sensors and GIS to pinpoint gunfire in a command center that is instantly transmitted to responding officers, new police technology offers law enforcement an edge to keep them safer– especially when they are on the road and most vulnerable.

 Last month, Nuance Communications was privileged to have one of our local Massachusetts police departments participate in our “Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day”.  The agency brought a cruiser packed with the latest technology – including our Dragon Law Enforcement speech recognition solution.  Interestingly, when the Lieutenant asked the children what the most powerful “weapon” was he had to fight crime, his answer wasn’t his gun, taser, baton or pepper-spray; it was the ability to thoroughly asses and accurately document an encounter, so the law was properly enforced, and criminals did not go free. 

As a provider of speech recognition technologies that are helping professionals across countless industries like law enforcement do their jobs in faster and smarter ways, we are proud to hear the small role we’re able to play in helping not only increase the efficiency of police reporting, but also getting officers back home safely to their families.