Five Ways Tech Will Help Police Keep Menifee Safe
When the first-ever Menifee Police Department officially begins serving and protecting the City of Menifee and its diverse population, it will be powered by 60-plus highly trained, experienced and passionate people. As vital as the human element will be to ensuring success within the department, the smart use of powerful new law enforcement technology will provide a huge assist — on many levels and in many ways.
“The Menifee PD wants to utilize technology to help keep both the community and our officers safe,” explains Captain Dave Gutierrez, the Menifee Police Department Captain who is overseeing the implementation of technology within the department. “This will also help our officers improve efficiency and effectiveness. We want them to have more time to be out there fighting crime. There’s so many pieces of technology we’ll be using.”
Here’s a closer look at five major tech innovations and implementations that will help power the Menifee Police Department in Chief Pat Walsh’s bold mission “to be one of the top five police departments in America.”
*Drones: When the department officially launches on July 1, it will fly out of the gates with four state-of-the-art drones. Powered by law enforcement tech innovator Axon and drone innovator DJI, the drone quartet will accomplish many tasks and serve many roles, according to Gutierrez. By allowing officers a quick, wide view of a large area, the drones and their onboard cameras will be particularly useful in a search for a missing person and/or fleeing crime suspect. They’ll also allow officers to maintain a safe distance while obtaining an up-close look.
*Body Cameras: Each Menifee PD officer will work his or her patrol equipped with an audio-visual body camera. Like the drones, these cameras are powered by Axon and serve a wide range of purposes for the department. The recorded audio and video can be utilized in court to help support officer arrest reports, and this evidence will also help foster a spirit of trust and transparency between Menifee police officers and citizens — particularly vital during the current climate of our society. If an officer is in danger or missing, the body camera can also provide GPS data and live streaming video that will allow police personnel to provide on-time, on-location assistance — as well as a closer look at the situation while en route with backup.
*Tasers: Yet another component in the state-of-the-art suite of services provided by Axon, the Taser is another tech tool that every Menifee PD officer will possess on his or her person at all times. This less-than-lethal tool provides officers with a powerful defense mechanism and restraint when encountering a violent or threatening suspect, and is directly linked to the officer’s body camera — anytime a Taser is deployed or “fired,” the body camera will be automatically activated. Gutierrez emphasizes that every officer will also be required to participate in both initial Taser training and yearly, ongoing training exercises to ensure maximum safety, competency and compliance.
*Automatic License Plate Readers: This is really a two-part smart solution that incorporates both license plate-scanning software and a series of small, strategically-placed security cameras. All stolen vehicles will be downloaded into the system’s database; if a stolen vehicle passes by a connected and networked security camera, Menifee PD headquarters will be immediately notified. The license plate-reader software can scan and search any and all plates that pass by any of the cameras, which will be installed near freeway on- and off-ramps, at high-traffic shopping centers and other yet-to-be-determined locations all around Menifee. Fast, smart searches can be conducted by partial plate number, make and model, crime timeframe and more. In addition to helping recover stolen vehicles and apprehend car thieves, this system could go a long way in aiding the recovery of abducted and missing people. Gutierrez says Menifee PD will likely work with community members and business owners to educate them on the value of installing networked, connected cameras as the system evolves.
*AED (Automated External Defibrillators): Traditionally installed and employed in hospitals and certain businesses, Automated External Defibrillators, or AEDs for short, will be installed in Menifee PD’s supervisor vehicles — with at least two AED-equipped vehicles being available during every patrol shift. Gutierrez stresses that while every officer is thoroughly trained in CPR, cardiac events/heart attacks often require more than merely CPR to prevent loss of life or severe damage from occurring. Gutierrez also stressed that it’s common for police officers to arrive on a distress scene before EMT or fire rescue personnel get there. In addition to CPR training, each officer is trained in first and AED operation.
Gutierrez also holds high praise for the deeply-connected, heavily networked, always-on “one-stop-shop solution” provided by Axon — which also includes a leading-edge, tech-equipped interview room and data capture and collection software. All audio and video evidence collected by Axon-equipped Menifee PD officers can be easily uploaded into one digital evidence storage space, expediting and streamlining officer operations. Members of the Menifee community and area business owners will also benefit from this future-forward setup, since officers in the field can easily send an information-rich download link to any smartphone number or email address.
“Axon really checks off a lot of the technology boxes,” explains Gutierrez. “All of our team really has a part to play here. There’s so many pieces of technology we’ll be using, including software. We’ll even have a program that allows us to use our smartphones and remote printers to issue citations and traffic tickets on the spot. It’s an exciting time for the Menifee Police Department.”