he combination of critical changes in police responsibilities (homeland security, counterterrorism, community policing) and continued advances in technology require an innovative approach to supporting the technological needs of state, county, local, and tribal law enforcement. In response to the emergence of these new responsibilities, agencies of all sizes use many technological resources to help them accomplish their missions. Although the definition of technology in the law enforcement community constantly expands, one issue remains constant: a lack of information about technology prior to purchase.
Agencies lack information about everything from the acquisition process to identifying a successful technology integration strategy. Technology acquisition is a costly proposition, calling for agencies to fully explore their needs to avoid making ill-advised or ad hoc decisions on expensive individual technologies. Agencies must approach acquisition using both shortand long-term strategies. As agencies prioritize and acquire additional technologies, they are immediately challenged with the follow-up task of technology management, putting in place the proper protocols, policies, procedures, certification, and training that will ensure appropriate use of these new tools. With limited financial and personnel resources, an agency can ill afford to implement an unsuccessful technology project. Rapid changes in technology, combined with the number of law enforcement agencies needing direction and assistance, create a formidable demand for increased technical assistance.
Over the past several years, the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Office technology grantees have received training and technical assistance in the planning, acquisition, and implementation processes after receiving COPS Office technology funds. Given the broad range of information technology products available to law enforcement, and the limited neutral, third-party information available on these products, police personnel often rely upon vendor sales brochures and anecdotal information from neighboring agencies before making purchasing decisions with long-term implications for their agencies and the compliance terms of their grant.
Consequently, instead of the police community, the customer, clearly articulating its needs and expected results to the suppliers, technology vendors and software developers have been defining the boundaries and, in some cases, misleading customers into buying systems that do not meet their needs. Although COPS Office training resources and technical assistance have greatly benefited COPS Office technology grantees, additional technical assistance is needed for the entire law enforcement community.
To respond to these technology needs, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), in collaboration with the COPS Office, created the nationwide Technology Technical Assistance Program (TTAP) to help local agencies make comprehensive assessments of their technology needs. TTAP’s goal is to improve agencies’ ability to protect and serve their communities and officers through effective technology purchases and management. TTAP will achieve this goal by providing tools for effective technology management that will help agencies identify needs and select, implement, and evaluate technology. TTAP’s objectives are to offer law enforcement agencies current, practical educational information on managing technology, and to widely disseminate existing and newly created educational resources to agencies nationwide.
The IACP has had an outstanding record of providing technology support to America’s law enforcement community, with well over 20 initiatives addressing technology under IACP leadership in the last two decades alone.
Not too long after TTAP was created, members of a blue-ribbon advisory committee met in Washington, D.C., in September 2005. The charge to this committee was to identity the top five technology topics facing law enforcement administrators at that time. After much deliberation, the committee pared a lengthy list of technology topics down to the following five priorities: in-car cameras, mobile computing technologies, network infrastructure, records management systems (RMS), and voice communications.
With these five priorities in mind, the TTAP team at IACP began researching and writing what would become the IACP Technology Desk Reference (TDR). The TDR will be completed and debuted at the annual IACP conference in Boston.
TTAP is a multiphase program beginning with the development and dissemination of this educational resource, the Technology Desk Reference (TDR). Chiefs are encouraged to visit www.iacptechnology.org/TTAP.htm to reserve a personal copy of the Technology Desk Reference (TDR). Future TTAP deliverables include the following:
• TechBytes: A series of technology news bulletins will be made available to law enforcement executives nationwide by mail and on the IACP Web site at www.iacptechnology.org . These bulletins will present concise updates on current technology issues directly related to the law enforcement community. Law enforcement administrators will be directed to the Web site for more detailed information concerning the topical areas of interest.
• Technology Leadership Academies: Five technology training academies will be delivered across the country to help law enforcement more effectively plan for, acquire, and manage technology.
• Regional Technology Mentor List: A list of technology mentors will be compiled in conjunction with the technology leadership academies. This list of technology mentors will be made available to law enforcement executives when technology questions and issues arise.
IACP TTAP Contacts
Elaine Deck, program manager, 800-THEIACP, Extension 262, firstname.lastname@example.org
Nancy Brandon, project assistant, 800-THEIACP, Extension 834, email@example.com