At the point when all of the sheets were available, someone realized that nearly 10 cops had been hired since the advent of CLEMIS and therefore these 10 had no training on how to complete a report on paper.
Can you imagine the frustration of the mayor's office answering to angry citizen victims about why no one is investigating or working on their problem? It was not a pretty picture.
Yet, in other agencies, I think the administration is intent on shooting themselves in the foot. As officers were being trained and prepared to use electronic ticketing, the department director wanted to delay the roll-out until all of the existing paper ticket stock had been depleted. What is this guy thinking?
As sure as wives get mad at husbands, computers are going to break. A cop who cannot work when the system goes down is just not acceptable. Whether it is a delayed report to the DB or a traffic violator who is let off because the cop cannot write a ticket - it just does not make sense.
HOW ARE THE ROOKIES BEING TRAINED?
I attempted to contact one of the nationally known "coaches" of newly-minted field training officers to find out about the inclusion of technology training in the FTO outline. He did not want to discuss the issue.
Further investigation, with some current Field Training Officers found that few (if any) agencies address formal training on mobile computers - whether it be the hardware or the software. A clear training void exists as it relates to the most used tool the new cop will have at his disposal.
Equally bad, we are not addressing the tactical implications of concentrating on a computer screen when out in a public setting. Situational awareness can go right down the drain when a cop is trying to figure out a new piece of software. Cops have been injured and killed because of it.
The typical DOR is devoid of any assessment of the rookie's proficiency with the technology.
Police administrations across the country seem to be turning a blind eye, allowing each cop to find his/her own way through the maze of the new gadgetry in the car.
WHAT CAN BE DONE?
Every situation and department is different. There is not a one size fits all answer. However, there are common objectives that can be applied universally.
- Management must recognize that mobile computing has changed many of the fundamentals of police work as they knew it.
- It must be recognized that a cop will use the mobile computer more than anything else at his disposal. Training must be commensurate with that level of usage.
- New hires need formal training with objectives and measures of success as it relates to the technology.
- New cops need to be taught where the safe havens are located for sitting and typing. The department's community policing line of "do it in a parking lot, in the open", is just deadly.
- Annual in-service training should provide formal training on new software, new features, and enhancement of existing (i.e. keyboard) skills.
Simultaneously, it is vital that the tools and training necessary to operate manually are maintained at the ready.
Patrol vehicles should probably be outfitted with an 'emergency pack' of tickets, reports, and forms that can be broken out when the computer goes down.
New hires need to be trained on manual systems and automated systems, alike.
I received this idea from one FTO that I know: one day each week, the rookie must work the entire shift without the computer. "We don't even turn it on," he said.
That led me to consider that maybe the shift sergeant or lieutenant should pick one day periodically (monthly, quarterly, etc.) when the entire shift will operate manually. He could put an extra person in dispatch to handle the added work load and then simply tell everyone that there is going to be training maintenance on the manual processes of the department.
IS IT CRAZY?
I remember August, 2003 - I think it was the 14th. There was a power outage that stretched from New York City all the way through the Midwest. The outage lasted approximately 24 hours. I was stationed on foot to guard the local Army Reserve Center.
The landline phones were iffy, at best.