"That's the power of information sharing," Griffin continues. "The power the LAPD now has."
COPLINK has proven to be a force multiplier with other agencies beyond the LAPD. One of Griffin's clients was able to demonstrate, through a year-long survey, that the agency was able to save 104 full-time equivalents. The client was able to re-deploy those forces because officers were able to go to one location and get more information faster.
"Every month I get a dozen letters from detectives and officers across the country who say they just took five violent felons off the street by using COPLINK," Griffin says. "That is one of the most satisfying things about what we're doing."May the force be with you
Technology multiplies law enforcers' ability to perform their primary functions, which are to investigate crime, prevent crime, regulate traffic and arrest offenders, says LAPD Retired Lt. Raymond Foster.
"Yes, technology can be a force multiplier, depending on how it's used," comments the author of "Police Technology," a primer on technology in the law enforcement field. "The use of COPLINK is an effort to combine data and get better information in investigations, which is certainly a good idea."
Foster cites as an example, the breaking into of a parked car, which is not a crime that would typically receive a quick response. But if it could be established that there were a series of break-ins, the police would see that an offender had committed not one but 26 vehicle burglaries.
"The gun used in the Manson murders was in police custody for nine months before the investigators knew about it because it was in another LAPD division — not in another police department, mind you," Foster highlights. "With today's technology, a police officer can just sit down at a database and find information across divisions and jurisdictions."
Every beat cop knows that police work is about information. "Now we can organize, recall and conduct analysis of that information," says Foster. "Where technology becomes a force multiplier is our ability to connect seemingly disparate information."
Gomez believes no single piece of technology is the entire answer. Officers must use technology and work with the community. Combined, Gomez says, you have the strongest solution available.
"Technology is a tool for the officer. Quite frankly, no technology is ever going to make a single arrest," he adds. "Ultimately, it all comes down to the officer in the field."
Gomez notes the LAPD is a young department and the officers have grown up with iPods and video games, so they see technology as a natural extension.
"We still have officers who have to learn the skill sets of how to be a police officer, how to recognize certain behavior that goes along with years of experience," Gomez says. "But you combine that experience with technology, and you have an extremely effective officer."
"Let's face it," Bratton adds. "With too few cops, we need cutting-edge technology to give us an edge on the criminals so one day we will achieve our goal of making Los Angeles the safest city in America."
Paul Davis is a freelance writer based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.