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American COP July/Aug 2010 - Page 20
HIGH TECh JIM DONAhUE CUTTING EDGE WIDGETS — AND OThER NEW STUFF. hey’re inevitable, calls for service we hate; the ones that make us wish we were tied up on something, anything else. The dispatcher grabs your attention on the radio and says she needs you to go to the report of a missing autistic 8-year-old boy. Where I work in South Florida, I’m more apt to hear it’s an 80-year-old — with Alzheimer’s. I remember one situation in particular. It was a balmy summer evening, near dusk, when I got the call. A child had been missing for more than two hours so every available unit was sent and we were there for the duration. The child’s home situation was awful and the single mother was useless in providing any meaningful information to help us to find the wayward youngster. I resigned myself to the realization this was going to be a long night. Street cops hate these kinds of incidents. So do their supervisors. Incidents like these consume every available resource — equipment, manpower, overtime and volunteers. And don’t forget, it’s inevitable you’ll have citizens complaining it took too long for you to respond to the situation. If the missing echnology has re-shaped almost every aspect person isn’t found quickly, the media will show up and the of cop work. Our cars and gear bags are full mayor will want a full report. of tools not imagined 15 years ago. We can learn everything about anyone in just a couple of seconds. The improvements to weaponry, both lethal and less-lethal, have fundamentally changed the use of force conundrum, I mean, continuum. irst there was the LoJack Safeby the EmSeeQ. The Cell phones, text messaging, digital radios, GPS tyNet system I wrote about almost device will maintain tracking and mobile computers keep us connected a year ago (Future Tech: Making contact with the disin a way the last generation of cops couldn’t Your Job Easier, American COP, patcher until the person fathom and probably, wouldn’t want. And Sep/Oct 2009). Using GPS and locator is found — meaning it technology is changing the way we devices, LoJack made it easier for law will give updated locations look for lost people. enforcement to find an at-risk person should the victim still be wanwho’d wandered away. Well, good just dering. When officers have found got better thanks to EmFinders. the missing person, they can safely Here’s how it works. A caregiver return them, and the EmSeeQ is shut off. manpower previously invested in a tradipurchases a wrist watch-like gizmo, This locating system is a win-win for tional search is significantly reduced. Still called an EmSeeQ, and has the at-risk all involved. There are no equipment or better, caregivers have peace of mind their “patient” wear it. Inside the wristband training costs for municipalities and the loved ones can be found quicker and easier. is a transponder that can be activated by EmFinders should the person wander away; it can only be activated after a caregiver has notified a 911 dispatcher, who’ll collect the necessary information to create a missing person file and eople expect us to protect them, but part of our job is to educate citizens assign a case number. how to better protect themselves. Educating them is also self-serving beOnce activated, the tracking device cause it reduces the drain and strain on manpower and calls for service. triangulates its location using cell How many times have you heard someone say, “What can I do to prevent phone towers and “calls” this from happening again?” the nearest 911-dispatch When it comes to finding the mentally challenged who’ve center to report the wandered off, you now have an answer. EmFinders can wearer’s emergency provide you with a handout you can give to citizens or have and location. The available at your station’s front counter. You owe it to them dispatcher can then and yourself to help make life easier. send officers to In the performance of our duties, it’s vital we separate the good the location from the gizmos. Good stuff will make us safer, more efficient and contribreported ute to saving lives. A very wise man said, “The technology bus is rolling — you can choose to be on it or under it.” T Hide & Seek T Our Changing WOrld f good got Better P Public Service Announcement * For more info: EmFinders, www.emfinders.com; LoJack SafetyNet, www.lojack.com 20 WWW.AMERICANCOPMAGAZINE.COM • JULY/AUGUST 2010