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'Innovation is key': New tech reduces paperwork, increases police efficiency in Delta

A police department in B.C. is leveraging advanced public safety technology to enhance community policing and reduce administrative work.

A British Columbia police department is investing in new technology to allow police officers to spend more time with the public instead of doing administrative tasks. 

On May 27, the Delta Police Department (DPD) hosted Axon Ecosystem at Dugald Morrison Park where the tech company showed off their latest gadgets: drones, transcription services, live-streaming police car cameras, virtual reality police training and a new electrical conductive energy device (Taser).

Police Chief Neil Dubord was pleased to see how Axon was moving ahead with efficiencies in their products. 

“Although we may not be seen as a technology-based industry, we're certainly looking at technology to increase efficiency. The cost of an officer keeps going up and up. That's reflected in everyone's taxes,” said Dubord. “We want to try and restrain that to maintain sort of a reasonable cost for policing in our communities.”

Dubord added he's "super excited for the future of policing."

Vishal Dhir, Axon's senior vice-president, said the company is working to support police officers so they’re not spending two to three hours a day writing reports. Instead, they're out engaging with the community.  

“Let's face it: an officer when they signed up, they didn't sign up to do... administrative tasks,” he said. “They want to engage in work with the citizens of their community and I feel like Delta has done that now with taking on some of this technology.”

The Axon system syncs all of the technology and devices together. 

“When people use a Taser, the public wants to know the context of why a Taser is used, so that's where we launched into body cameras. When you talk about body cameras, people want to know, well, how is it stored? How is it managed? How is that evidence getting to the court system?” Dhir explained. 

The Delta Police Department was the first police agency in B.C. to use body cameras. Dhri explains how Delta was also the first to launch in-car cameras and use automated license plate recognition technology. 

DPD Acting Insp. James Sandberg explains how their officers are also using interview room software and transcription software for statements. The latter is done in under a minute, saving officers time, he said.

"Probably the most impactful [technology] in today's environment would be the body-worn camera,” said Sandberg of the Axon devices. "We're seeing more and more used in the province, and we will continue to see more."

As technology advances, the police agency too needs to keep up. 

"I think that Delta has been progressive in embracing technology,” said Sandberg. "I would say we're probably a little bit ahead of the curve on certain things.”

He believes their approach and willingness to try new things is a benefit to their officers. 

"I think innovation is key; knowing that technology is constantly changing and will constantly change,” said Sandberg. "We need to keep up with that change or we will fall so far behind that we won't be able to get there."

Community support is also what allows Delta police to implement the Axon tech, according to Dubord. 

“I can’t say enough about our team that actually uses this technology,” said Dubord. “They use it, they try it and we provide that feedback to Axon.” 

New Taser awaiting approval 

A new less-lethal technology device has not yet been given the green light in B.C., but gives officers the ability to stand further back from people when deploying it.

“Taser 10 is going to be a game changer when it is approved for use in British Columbia,” said Sandberg. 

Currently, Delta police are using an older device called Taser X26P. Officers need to be within 21 feet of the subject; Axon changed this in the new model to allow an officer to be 45 feet away. 

This "creates safety,” said Sandberg.

It also could be beneficial to the person who police are responding to. 

“It also lowers a little bit of the officer presence for the person involved so it takes some of the stress out of it,” he said, adding it has a warning signal that can help de-escalate situations.

The new technology has to be approved and needs medical evidence and field testing. Dhir is optimistic it'll take months, not years, for approval.

The Delta Police Department has contacted B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth about wanting to have Taser 10 models approved. 

“The province just authorized Taser 7 use in B.C. last year. Taser 10 will come. It's just a matter of time.” 

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