By Dean Hairston, Operations Commander, Danville, Virginia, Police Department; and Chair, IACP Law Enforcement Information Management Section
ver the years, technology has invaded every aspect of life. Today many people have their own personal computers, televisions, and cellular telephones. Likewise, the law enforcement community has been inundated with all types of technical gadgets and data management tools. The stream of new technology available to law enforcement agencies continues to increase exponentially. It was only a decade or so ago when Radio Frequency (RF) was the technological center of the law enforcement universe. But today even Wi-Fi appears to be yesterday’s news, and the new debate centers on spectrum reallocation and which fourth-generation technology will dominate: either Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access (WiMax) or cellular Long-Term Evolution (LTE) technology. Traditionally, radio and Internet protocol (IP) networks operated in two separate domains. However, with the introduction of connective technology, they now operate collectively, connecting multiple disparate networks.
The introduction of new technology also brings with it additional challenges beyond the technical realm, such as developing governance for interoperability projects. Historically, law enforcement agencies have engineered and maintained their respective systems to be independent of neighboring jurisdictions. The idea of interoperability is a relatively new concept, requiring a shift in the systemic law enforcement paradigm to become a viable movement. Many grants now give preference to projects that involve a collective effort between two or more agencies, but an underlying question for many agencies is that of simply maintaining operability. Likewise, underfunded agencies with flat budgets lack the expertise to build or maintain systems capable of interagency connectivity.
Help Is Available
Perhaps all of this tech talk seems overwhelming. If that is the case, there is both good and bad news. The bad news is that new technology is rolling out faster than agencies can build networks to support them; chances are, by the time agencies research, plan, and implement a solution, it is likely to be obsolete as well. The good news is that help is available. Many law enforcement agencies have found themselves in this very situation and have reached out to their practitioner counterparts for guidance.
Readers of this magazine are likely already familiar with the annual IACP conference but might not be as knowledgeable concerning its many sections and other available resources. The IACP Law Enforcement Information Management (LEIM) Section is one such resource created to address technology issues facing the law enforcement community. Each year the LEIM Section hosts an annual conference, which is the only international law enforcement technology professional conference designed by practitioners for practitioners. This year, the section hosts its 33rd Annual LEIM Training Conference and Exhibition in Dallas, Texas. The conference will be held May 18–21, 2009, at the Hyatt Regency Dallas. The Dallas Police Department will serve as the host agency and as a cosponsor in support of the conference. The LEIM Section’s annual conference offers unique opportunities for practitioners to network with other practitioners from across the United States and from other parts of the world. The conference will also provide attendees with an opportunity to hear and learn about cutting-edge technology and the most current information available on information management. Subject matter expects will present on best practices and lessons learned in an interactive presentation environment and in hands-on workshops. Topics will include digital evidence and asset management, network integration and system security, wireless technology, mobile and handheld computing, video surveillance, spectrum reallocations, computer crime fighting, information management, project governance, grant writing, and much more.
LEIM Section Conference Details
Preconference Committee Meetings: Preconference committee meetings are tentatively scheduled for May 14–17. An updated list of committees, meeting locations, and times can be found on the IACP Technology Clearinghouse Web site (www.IACPtechnology.org).
Federal Track: In years past, the LEIM Section has partnered with the National Institute of Justice to host a separate day to showcase many of its cutting-edge research projects as a preconference activity. This year, to increase practitioner exposure to this very valuable information, the LEIM Section will integrate the federal presentations under a federal track, which will be held in conjunction with conference activities. Presentation content, locations, and times are available on the conference schedule.
Sixth Annual IACP-iXP Excellence in Technology Award Program: The IACP-iXP Excellence in Technology Award Program is a highly competitive application process that recognizes national and international law enforcement agencies for technical merit and achievement. The awards are divided into three categories in four divisions. The categories include excellence in law enforcement communications and interoperability, innovation in information technology, and response to computer-related crime. The divisions consist of small agencies, medium-sized agencies, large agencies, and regional/multijurisdictional agencies. In previous years, these awards were handed out during the annual IACP conference, but the awards presentation has been moved to the LEIM Section’s conference for 2009.
Conference Scholarships: This year the IACP LEIM Section is offering a limited number of full and partial scholarships to law enforcement agencies that demonstrate financial hardship. The LEIM Section will fund up to five full and five partial conference scholarships to qualifying IACP LEIM Section members. The 2009 scholarship opportunity deadline has passed, but readers should check back with the LEIM Section later in the year for 2010 scholarship opportunities.
Exhibition and Static Display: An exhibition and static display of the latest law enforcement technologies will be held throughout the conference. In addition to corporate displays, federal government technology projects as well as state and local law enforcement technologies will be featured. Local agency representatives will be on hand to provide an end user perspective on each of the technologies displayed.
Full conference details are available at the IACP Technology Clearinghouse Web site (www.IACPtechnology.org). Attendance is limited to the first 750 registrants, and LEIM Section members will be given priority. Early registration is strongly encouraged due to the limited space, so register today to see what help the LEIM Section has to offer!
For additional information, readers can contact Heather Ruzbasan Cotter at 1-800-THE-IACP, extension 315, or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. ■