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Public Safety Column
The IPSA's Public Safety Column is an opportunity for our members and corporate sponsors to provide thought leadership articles about all topics facing public safety.
The articles we publish are not necessarily the views of the IPSA, rather they are opinions shared by each contributor.
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The cold-blooded murder and ambush of Officer Miosotis Familia in New York City Wednesday morning is a grim reminder that just one short year ago on July 7, 2016, members of our nation’s law enforcement community were the targets and victims of a deadly ambush attack in Dallas. Five officers lost their lives – one of the deadliest events in recent law enforcement history.
1. Sergeant Michael Smith, Dallas Police Department, End of Watch: Thursday, July 7, 2016
2. Senior Corporal Lorne Ahrens, Dallas Police Department, End of Watch: Thursday, July 7, 2016
3. Police Officer Michael Krol, Dallas Police Department, End of Watch: Thursday, July 7, 2016
4. Police Officer Patrick Zamarripa, Dallas Police Department, End of Watch: Thursday, July 7, 2016
5. Police Officer Brent Thompson, Dallas Area Rapid Transit Police Department, End of Watch: Thursday, July 7, 2016
These five officers were selflessly protecting citizens who were exercising their First Amendment right to assemble peaceably. The International Public Safety Association will never forget this night of terror on our nation’s law enforcement community.
Assaults against our first responders continue. Since the tragedy in Dallas last year, there have been several ambush attacks and attempted assaults. A fatal ambush attack against an NYPD Officer occurred earlier this week. While we can all agree these assaults must stop immediately, the unfortunate reality is that these attacks are continuing.
First responders must work in unity with leadership in their agencies, their partner agencies, elected officials and community organizations to objectively assess and develop a path forward to try to prevent these serious attacks we continue to witness.
They must continue to reach out to the communities they serve for assistance in preventing these attacks and support when recovering from these tragedies. Stay strong, lean on each other for support and trust the members of your community. They feel your frustration and pain.
Heather R. Cotter
By Columbia Southern University
Paramedics, emergency medical technicians and others who rush to help those in life threatening situations are truly unsung heroes. And, they are incredibly busy professionals with high demanding jobs. A 2014 report from the National Fire Incident Reporting System indicated that approximately 64 percent of the more than 23 million calls to fire departments involve EMS.
Further, these highly trained professionals care for patients often at their most vulnerable moments as they work diligently to aid each patient.
Yet, whom do these valiant first responders count on to make sure they are able to save a life? To get the correct equipment and tools they need? To secure their proper training and information? To provide a strong operational system to allow them to interact with other emergency agencies?
Perhaps a “hero” to paramedics, EMTs and others in emergency services is the behind-the-scenes director, manager or supervisor who excels in emergency medical services administration (EMSA).
What is EMSA?
EMSA involves the key management of responsibilities related to planning, organizing, improving and maintaining a system of emergency medical services or administering an emergency medical services program. EMSA also employs leadership skills to help direct and assign emergency services, both in urgent and routine situations.
Administration of EMS can benefit from a robust experience in the field as a first-responder. In some positions, this may not be crucial, but it can be hard to lead if you have never followed, as some say. Connecting with others with whom you have worked shoulder-to-shoulder or those whose jobs you have done before gives management authenticity and may foster respect. These can be valuable tools in communication, interpreting behaviors and analyzing and evaluating personnel’s skill sets in emergency medical services.
Those who pursue careers in EMSA have a bevy of choices throughout the various first-response departments such as fire and rescue, emergency management and EMS—not to mention careers at the federal, state and local government levels and within the private sector. Some administrative jobs include:
Voice of experience
Someone who knows what it’s like to work in an administrative capacity in the EMS field is manager Lt. Daniel Tyk of the North Shore Fire Department in Brown Deer, Wisconsin. He has worked at the department since 2005 and now wears many hats as EMS manager, public information and community relations officer.
As the department’s EMS manager, he supervises 94 personnel who are paramedics and EMTs. Tyk oversees their training, quality assurance and continuing education, which he strongly endorses and recommends they get.
“I don’t think a person should ever stop trying to learn more. It’s very important to always find a way to better yourself,” said Tyk, who did just that by recently earning an online bachelor’s degree in EMSA from Columbia Southern University. He pursued the degree to expand and fortify his education and skills and create additional career opportunities. He’s glad he did, too.
“CSU courses have prepared me to look beyond the everyday managerial responsibilities and refocus on how to take a 30,000-foot view of decisions that are made to align with strategic goals, increasing efficiencies and creating innovation within the organization,” he explained.
For those seeking a position in EMSA, continued education is strongly recommended, as most positions require a formal degree. Whether it be a degree in emergency medical services administration, public administration or emergency services management, a degree can help a future manager become a “hero” for his or her team of first-responders.
About Columbia Southern University
One of the nation’s pioneer online universities, Columbia Southern University was established in 1993 to provide an alternative to the traditional university experience. CSU offers online associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees such as business administration, criminal justice, fire administration and occupational safety and health. Visit ColumbiaSouthern.edu or call (877) 347-6050 to learn more.
How education can advance your law enforcement, criminal justice career
3 ways continuing education keeps your safety career up to code
By Sean W. Stumbaugh, Battalion Chief (Retired)
The use of mind-altering substances is nothing new. Since the first person left a bowl of grain out in the rain, and then the sun and wild yeast did their thing, humans have had access to beer. Additional intoxicating substances followed through different methods of discovery. How people figured out that the milky substance contained in the un-ripened seed pod of the poppy flower is a powerful drug is beyond me. This drug is opium.
History of opium
Opium use in America is also nothing new. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, a substance called laudanum was very popular. This product was a mixture of 10 percent opium and alcohol. Laudanum was available as an over-the-counter drug. It was basically the aspirin of its time and was recommended for pain relief for many common ailments and for serious diseases such as tuberculosis.
The problem with laudanum is that it is highly addictive due to the opium content. As more people began to develop addictions, doctors began to discourage its use; government regulations restricting access to opioids soon followed.
Today, opium comes in many natural and synthetic forms. Modern pharmaceutical companies have created synthetic opioids (e.g., fentanyl, Dilaudid, Norco), which are much more powerful than their natural cousin. These medications were created to reduce pain and suffering for patients after injury or surgery and for those living with chronic pain.
Opioid abuse and toxicity
The problem is that individuals have a proclivity to abuse these medications and become addicted; take away the prescribed medications and some addicts turn to street drugs out of desperation. Four in five new heroin users start out misusing prescription painkillers. Opioid abuse in the U.S. has become epidemic and many people are dying.
We have seen numerous reports in the past several weeks of law enforcement, firefighters, emergency medical personnel and K9s being exposed to highly toxic opioids.
These exposures come through casual contact such as searching a car for drugs, brushing off a small amount of white powder (following a search in which the officer had used gloves and mask), touching a patient with a synthetic opioid on their person, or inhaling a drug after it was aerosolized from a flash/bang device.
Adverse effects when administering treatment
A patient overdosing on opioids presents inherent risks to first responders. These drugs cause respiratory depression, and first responders often find patients who aren’t breathing. The initial treatment options are to provide ventilation for the patient and administer Narcan (naloxone), if it is available. Naloxone is designed to reverse the effects of the drug.
However, first responders need to know that sometimes when the patient becomes conscious, they are very agitated and can become violent. Also, they may have residue or greater amounts of the drug on their person. First responders need to be aware of these hazards and take appropriate precautions.
Hazardous materials refresher
First responders need to start approaching these incidents with a hazardous materials (hazmat) response mindset. I know it’s not practical for all responders to show up in Level A suits; that’s not what I’m talking about.
But, we are taught from the beginning of our careers that hazmat calls are uniquely dangerous. Our first responsibility in these situations is to isolate the area and deny further entry of responders or civilians.
Recently, there have been reports about law enforcement officers, firefighters, EMS and K9s being exposed and becoming ill from fentanyl and other opiates through patient contact or contact with the drug by touching a contaminated object.
If this type of exposure occurred at a hazmat call, we would all say a policy or procedure had been violated. This is not about blaming the victim who was exposed, but it is about rethinking first responders’ approach to these lethal substances.
First responders need to re-evaluate their mindset about responding to calls involving illicit drugs. We might need to start viewing them as hazmat calls. In fact, hazmat is defined as “a material or substance that poses a danger to life, property, or the environment if improperly stored, shipped or handled.”
Based on the evidence I believe opioids fit this definition.
Hazmat routes of exposure
There are four routes of exposure for a hazmat:
All four of these exposure routes are in play when it comes to illicit drugs. It is easy to understand that if you touched a drug with your finger, and then stuck your finger in your mouth, you would suffer an exposure to the drug. Or, if you were stuck by a hypodermic needle that was contaminated, you could be exposed to the drug. But, what about inhalation? Well, users often snort these materials through a straw, so exposure from breathing in the powder makes sense.
The most surprising exposure route, as noted by recent exposures to fentanyl, is absorption.
The fact that just touching the material, or accidentally getting it on your skin, can cause you to become ill or intoxicated, and even overdose, is what is shocking to me. We need to take this issue seriously and protect ourselves from all routes of exposure.
How can we protect ourselves in a practical way when we encounter overdose calls daily? We need to have a “me first” attitude and use good decision-making, proper procedures and personal protective equipment.
I joined the fire service in the early 1980s—a time of discovery for bloodborne pathogens. As we encountered new communicable diseases, we realized we were potentially exposed when treating patients. We began training on and using the concepts of Universal Precautions.
Universal Precautions basically means “treat all blood and body fluids as if they were infectious.” We protected our hands with medical exam gloves, our eyes with protective eyewear, and our mouths and noses with medical masks. We didn’t wear masks for every call but we did use them when performing invasive procedures (e.g., intubating a patient’s airway). Many paramedics learned to wear a mask the hard way: by experiencing exposure to blood and other bodily fluids when performing these tasks.
We need to consider approaching drug overdoses, and drug investigations, with these principles in mind. What does this look like?
If these steps sound burdensome, consider that they are common practices in settings such as dental offices. For more guidance, access “Fentanyl: A Briefing Guide for First Responders,” recently released by the DEA.
Review your illicit drug response protocols
When we encounter new hazards in the workplace we need to evaluate the risk and develop new engineering and work practice controls to protect ourselves and our employees.
The new threat of very powerful synthetic opioids, and the severe harm they cause, must be addressed in this manner. It’s difficult and maybe even impractical to avoid these hazards altogether; however, we need to try.
If we can approach opioid overdose calls with a hazardous materials mindset, practice Universal Precautions, and slow down when there is discretionary time, we can reduce the risks and hopefully avoid any further injury. It's about doing our jobs well, serving those we swore to protect—but still going home healthy at the end of the shift. Take care of yourselves and each other out there!
Sean Stumbaugh is a management services representative for Lexipol - an IPSA Supporter. He retired in 2015 after 32 years in the American fire service, serving as battalion chief for the Cosumnes Fire Department in Elk Grove, Calif., as well as the El Dorado Hills (Calif.) Fire Department and the Freedom (Calif.) Fire District. Sean has a master’s degree in Leadership and Disaster Preparedness from Grand Canyon University, a bachelor’s degree in Fire Science from Columbia Southern University, and an associate degree from Cabrillo College in Fire Protection Technology. In addition to his formal education, he is a Certified Fire Officer, Chief Officer, and Instructor III in the California State Fire Training certification program. Sean has taught numerous state fire training courses and has been an adjunct professor with Cosumnes River College in Sacramento. Sean is now continuing his career by serving as the volunteer Para- Chaplain for the Daisy Mountain Fire District in New River, AZ.
Lexipol is an IPSA Supporter. Lexipol’s policies and training solutions provide essential policies to enhance the safety of first responders in all areas of operations. Contact Lexipol today to find out more.
All IPSA Members and IPSA Supporters are eligible to submit an article for publication consideration. Contact usfor more information at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fentanyl: What first responders need to know about this potentially lethal drug
Webinar about Emerging Technology: Raman Spectroscopy Applications in Public Safety
By Captain J. Scott Quirarte, Ventura County Fire Department, IPSA RTF Vice-Chair, IPSA TEMS Committee Member, IPSA Treasurer
A recent NAEMT study reported that 52 percent of the EMS workers polled have been assaulted by a patient. Further, the FBI reported there were 50,212 officers who were assaulted while performing their duties in 2015.
These results are astonishing. However, what’s even more shocking is that assaults against first responders are likely never reported because of a false belief that it’s part of the job. Ask your crews and officers you work with how many of them have been assaulted, and you will likely find the true number is well above 90 percent.
First responders and leadership must stop ignoring the issue. First responder assaults are inevitably going to continue occurring, and we must be prepared to protect ourselves. This preparation starts before an incident occurs. First responders need to adopt a when/then thinking philosophy. “When this happens, then I’ll do this.” The key to this thought process is not “if” it will happen, it’s “when” it happens.
Example: If I enter a house and there is a combative patient, then I’ll just leave and call law enforcement.
Let’s pick apart this example. First, you’re not mentally prepared to respond if you think this is a hypothetical or rare possibility (nothing bad ever happens to me, right?).
Second, your situational awareness will be poor or lacking when you enter the room, and you won’t be assessing your environment.
Third, when something bad does happen, you will not be mentally prepared to act quickly and decisively. You will freeze. Maybe you only freeze a second, but a second is enough time for the assaulter to hit you in the head with a pan or stab in the face with a pencil.
Your frame of mind by using “if’s” is that you’re not mentally preparing yourself when you arrive on scene.
Every call is unknown
Typically, when arriving on scene, first responders park their vehicles directly in front of a house. While this is the general practice, it doesn’t mean it’s always the smartest approach.
Parking up the street gives time for evaluating the scene. When you arrive take a few seconds to evaluate the environment. Look, listen, hear and smell it.
Guns and knives are generally what comes to mind as conventional weapons, and when you don’t see them in the room, does that mean you’re safe? The answer is no.
Whether you are stabbed in the head with a knife or a pencil, the results will be the same. Most, if not all, household items can be used to inflict harm on us.
Patient care should be conducted in an area free and clear of any hazards, including those brought by us. If your patient can reach it, then your patient can use it as a weapon.
The worst place for patient care are bedrooms, kitchens and garages. Often, people keep conventional weapons in their bedrooms. Kitchen and garages also have several items that can be used as weapons.
Very few objects stop bullets
It’s important to do some research on this. Fire and EMS must meet with their law enforcement department to discuss what truly stops bullets.
These are all questions you must know the answer to before you respond to the next call. I guarantee that you will be shocked at how few things provide true cover and will stop a bullet.
Set up a meeting with your law enforcement partners today to get a debriefing.
This is a concept that many law enforcement officers have adopted that can be applied on medical incidents. It’s very difficult to conduct patient care and still maintain overall situational awareness of the overall scene. By using cover and contact one member can focus on patient care while the other focuses on scene safety. Essentially, one individual provides direct patient care – the contact person- and the other takes the position of cover. The crew member acting as cover is keeping his or her eyes on the scene, watching for threats and maintaining situational awareness. Make sure anyone tasked with cover is paying attention to everyone present.
Actively assess the entire scene until you leave
Take in the entire picture and identify escape routes and safety zones. Fire crews and paramedic/EMTs are not law enforcement officers. We have two objectives for safe response:
However, law enforcement officers must also take extra precaution when responding to a call and actively assess the scene for danger. Below are some questions that all first responders must start addressing to improve situational awareness:
In addition to the above questions, below are some situational awareness tips that will also help first responders from preventing the next assault.
First responders get assaulted. It’s often under reported. And, it’s not going to get better anytime soon.
Sure, first responders can continue to tell themselves that “if” something happens, “then” I will handle it and be unprepared, putting themselves at unnecessary risk.
Or first responders can step up and say “when” something happens, “then” I will be ready. I’m going with “when” and preparing myself and my crews.
IPSA InfoBrief: Assaults Against First Responders
Webinar: Is this scene safe?
4 officer safety tips to ensure you go home at the end of your shift
By Roger Rodriguez, NYPD-Retired, Vigilant Solutions, Director of Business Development
The headline of a WIRED magazine article published on August 19, 2016, states, “Hackers Trick Facial Recognition Logins with Photos from Facebook (What Else?).” The article is about a study that was conducted with 20 volunteers, and it proved just how easy it was to obtain various facial photos of your identity from social media sites on the web.
Essentially, the study showed how someone can “spoof” or trick biometric technology through impersonation to access devices or other personal accounts. It further demonstrated that without proper precautions in place, anyone can take a photo or video of someone and present it to a facial recognition system to gain access. A definite breach of personal privacy and security, and a major setback to the growth of facial recognition as a valued and secure form of biometric technology.
Recognizing the vulnerabilities of spoofing attacks against facial recognition systems, Vigilant Solutions implemented strong liveness detection countermeasures for true facial authentication. This countermeasure can easily identify and prevent these types of fraudulent attacks.
Liveness face detection uses multi-modal biometric technologies to confirm that the face belongs to an actual living being, and it is not a face captured in a photo or video. The Vigilant Solutions Liveness Face Detection web application uses random interactive actions, along with facial recognition technology, to validate the person is truly alive and actually in front of the facial recognition system, versus a photo that has been submitted to spoof the system and gain access.
How it works
Movements are measured through randomized prompts. Each command is subsequently verified in the system. This is classified as an active facial analysis requiring the end-user to follow a series of face position commands that are set by the system administrator.
These unpredictable commands make it much more difficult to simply rely on canned photos or videos to spoof facial recognition technology. If the end-user does not comply with one prompt, the application generates a failed identity check. When the end-user follows all the random and unpredictable face command prompts, then the “proof of life” validation process ends, and a secondary facial recognition verification begins using facial recognition technology to compare the user against the stored profile image contained in the database.
This two-factor authentication combines motion verification, one-to-one facial recognition technology and continues to be the most secure form of identity verification and authentication.
When accurately implemented, it can be used to complement or replace PIN numbers and passwords, or it can be used as means to check-in for those who require supervision. First responders that rely on facial recognition software to aid in their investigations must challenge their facial recognition providers to constantly seek ways to improve upon any vulnerabilities identified in their technology.
Don’t get caught by attempts to spoof your facial recognition systems. Make liveness face detection a part of your identity verification solution today.
About the Author
Roger Rodriguez joined Vigilant Solutions after serving over twenty years with the NYPD where he spearheaded the NYPD’s first dedicated facial recognition unit and helped start up the Real Time Crime Center. Both are recognized as world models in law enforcement data analytics and facial recognition used in criminal investigations. Today, Roger drives the Facial Recognition, License Plate Reader, and Mobile Companion product lines for Vigilant Solutions as Director of Business Development. As subject matter expert and author, he shares his experiences through thought leadership presentations, media interviews, publications, and hundreds of law enforcement agencies around the world have benefitted from them.
Why old-fashioned police work is still required for facial recognition investigations
By Mike Mitchell, Assistant Chief of Technology, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
Technology trends change rapidly in law enforcement, and conservation law enforcement officers (e.g. game wardens) have a unique subset of challenges. Often these officers are widely distributed across their jurisdictions, a warden might not see his or her supervisor for multiple days and he or she may not even have cell signal for days at a time.
While working conditions are moderately different for conservation law enforcement officers, their need for funding and maximizing their budget is similar to mainstream public service agencies. They, too, have high demands and expectations from the individuals they serve.
When it comes down to it, all law enforcement agencies must be more creative and smarter with how they apply the funds in their operating budget. Knowing when, how and where to stretch the dollar is more important than ever.
Technology purchasing decisions
It is helpful to place technology purchasing decisions in the context of Diffusion of Innovations. Everett Rogers, a professor of communication studies, popularized the theory in his book Diffusion of Innovations. Essentially, the theory seeks to explain how, why and at what rate new ideas and technology spread. Rogers allows decision-makers to consider whether they are innovators, early adopters, majority and laggards.
In technology decision-making, the critical moment is around the 15-18 percent adoption rate. That’s where decision-makers ought to select and take advantage of what will become the majority or abandon and avoid the tool.
Let me give you a real-world example that most of us can remember. Do you recall when the VHS tape competed against the Sony Betamax tape format in the 1970s? The VHS format won and Betamax lost. Managers need to heed that comparison and stay out of the risky area (like the Betamax format), while achieving the progress of available tools (like the VHS tape).
Technologies worth considering
There are countless new technology products and innovations impacting conservation enforcement officers. By drawing from the best use-cases from seven states, here are 10 solutions worth considering.
Mobile apps are performing simple tasks well for officers in the field. Some require connectivity, while other apps store information within the mobile device.
In Texas, for example, game wardens can use iPhones to check driver’s license, license plates, boat registrations, missing persons, warrants, hunting licenses, fishing licenses, education certification, officer locations and other pertinent and useful information.
Some apps are internally developed while others are hosted by a third-party. The cost to develop an app is usually around $20,000 to $40,000. And some third-party apps cost annually between $100-280 per individual.
BWCs are huge in the public eye due to recent well-known cases such as the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. BWCs bring the advantage of showing one viewpoint, but also have the liabilities of storage, retention, redaction, privacy, policy, training and auditing.
As U.S. law enforcement agencies are collectively purchasing these by the thousands, dozens of vendors are offering BWCs and storage services. South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks, for example, just got BWCs in April 2017. It is in early deployment to about 86 conservation officers.
Lack of bandwidth is often a concern among officers as the video must be uploaded. Some agencies are finding unintended consequences coming from these tools. Decision-makers are urged to utilize resources such as the U.S. Department of Justice toolkits and do their due diligence before procurement.
Costs of BWCs vary by features, storage and vendor. Typically, BWCs and training cost around $400-800 per user. And data storage generally ranges from $600 to $1,000 per user annually.
Radiological and nuclear detection
In Texas, there are four million surface acres of coastal waters and 16 deep water ports, and the game wardens deploy detection capabilities daily. This elevates maritime domain awareness, information sharing, intelligence, prevention and protection. Grants have been used to secure 106 pieces of technologically advanced radiological and nuclear detection equipment.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Domestic Nuclear Detection Office and the U.S. Coast Guard are constantly seeking partners to enhance the radiological and nuclear detection efforts in the maritime domain. The goal is to have a mesh network reporting triggers to federal partners.
Issuing e-citations saves time, reduces steps and leads to increased officer safety. General concerns about the solution include connectivity, printing, screen size and accuracy. Some jurisdictions may also need to change processes or interfaces.
In conservation law enforcement, the concern is increased by issues such as printing citations on a jon boat in the heat near saltwater during ten hours of patrol. Florida Fish and Wildlife has resolved this concern particularly well by having its portable printers in waterproof plastic cases with batteries. Other printing options are developing.
Side scan sonar
Any tool bringing rapid closure to the distress of a drowning is appreciated. Water is difficult to work in and dive teams are expensive. Fortunately, today there is a strong track record for the ability to locate persons or evidence underwater, using side scan sonar and towed arrays. Recoveries are occurring over minutes instead of days.
Side scan sonar units cost around $1,300 to $1,800 each and can even be made portable. Towed array sonars cost about $50,000 with training and rigging.
Social media is proving to be a significant, low-cost, high-yield tool in conservation enforcement. From outreach to obtaining tips, it is proving to be invaluable.
In a 2016 post about poaching, a suspect called one Texas agency’s dispatch center within two hours, asking, “Why is my picture on Facebook?” There are several resources out there for agencies to learn how to get started like the International Association of Chiefs of Police’s Center for Social Media.
Conservation related citations, licenses and education certificates are not often stored in any shared databases. Although some data is shared through the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact Act, there are still several states and jurisdictions that do not participate.
Shared databases could greatly improve cross-border information sharing. Regulatory, privacy and legal issues remain. Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources and Alaska’s Department of Fish and Game are providing some information to the National Law Enforcement Telecommunications System.
Since conservation officers work in disparate areas at disparate times, having an online collaboration tool is invaluable. There are CJIS-secure platforms available that offer discussion boards, wiki pages and specific access for who can see what online. These collaboration tools often include virtual screen sharing using any type device (mobile or PC) and automatically adjusts to available bandwidth.
The cost varies number of licenses and other bundled features. One state conservation agency currently pays about $100 per person per year.
Public safety broadband
First responders having voice and data communications capability in times of crisis is crucial. Thus, the federal government is pursuing FirstNet, a nationwide system that will provide broadband service for first responders. States must opt into the system or come up with a similar one.
It is an exciting, integrated approach that should deliver specialized features that are better for public safety.
Some concerns among conservation law enforcement include rural coverage capabilities, pricing and the potential need for new equipment.
The days of manual reports are over. New technologies bring better ways to gather, store and share information. From entering evidence to writing case reports, from entering daily vehicle information to monthly summaries, reporting can be done securely online.
For example, at Oklahoma’s Department of Wildlife Conservation, game wardens report daily patrol vehicle mileage via a mobile app. They can then check or print their work via a desktop computer. Routing and approvals are done electronically.
Many states also use records management systems for case and/or evidence management. Vendors host these in the cloud or they may be developed in house. An example of cloud-based annual fees from one vendor is $558 per individual.
Looking toward the future
We know from Rogers’ Diffusion of Innovation theory that exposure to new trends is key. Public safety managers need to consider what trends are developing around them and what tools might help their officers.
In the case of conservation enforcement, there is a unique set of needs. But perhaps some of the trends could be valuable for any public safety manager to examine.
Mike Mitchell has 14 years of service in public safety and serves as the Assistant Chief of Technology for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Mike has a Master’s Degree of Management in Hospitality from Cornell University, and a Bachelor’s of Science in Geography from Texas A&M University. He is a certified Texas Peace Officer and a member of the IPSA.
Why first responders need to hang on to their land mobile radios (at least for now)
By Gary Teeler, Chief of Homeland Security and Emergency Management for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, IPSA Emerging Technologies Committee Member
Even though a contract between FirstNet and AT&T was recently signed and the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network is almost here, first responders shouldn’t be quick to get rid of their land mobile radios. I’ll explain why, but first let me explain the concept of the NPSBN.
If you have ever experienced a high-volume event where service was congested, you likely could not get your pictures or videos to post, or texts to send. Currently, the public safety community shares that same experience, although the information that needs to be transmitted is likely to be more critical and life-saving.
The NPSBN will be very much like a data service that you might purchase through several commercial carriers. The goal of the NPSBN is to provide dedicated bandwidth so all first responders can effectively communicate during mission critical situations, such as emergencies, disasters and events, without getting bogged down in congestion or being kicked off the network (something we’ve all experienced).
Ability to actually communicate
You have heard the phrases such as “knowledge is power” or a “picture is worth a thousand words.” The NPSBN will allow first responders to quickly harness information, transmit data, stream live video, provide situational awareness and be more efficient on communicating, which is a most critical function in this line of work. The missing piece is voice communications, and this is being addressed.
The question that is often asked is, "How does my agency get FirstNet?" Each State and Territory must-opt in or opt-out of the network that will be stood up by FirstNet.
If they opt out, they must build their own. Also, the network itself, requires special “Band Class 14” devices.
The selection is limited, and they are costly. The network on which this system will operate does not yet fully exist.
LMR for now
Land mobile radio has been the go-to communication method for public safety for many years. It is reliable in emergency and disaster situations, easy to use and is a familiar piece of equipment to most first responders. A recent trend experienced by many agencies is users communicating more frequently by smartphone. When networks get overloaded or fail, then responders fall back to LMR.
The message to push up to management is that the NPSBN will be a great tool for public safety, but it will not replace LMR right away.
Funding mechanisms must be put in place to fund both broadband public safety and LMR. The two systems may converge in the future, but at this point neither is the complete solution.
Those of you reading this that have been involved since from the beginning and when FirstNet was being conceptualized will likely recall comments like “not in my lifetime” or “it will never happen” being commonplace. I hope the naysayers are watching, as many remain dear friends, because the NPSBN is coming to fruition soon. In fact, it is a reality in five parts of the U.S. right now.
About the Author
Gary Teeler has 21 years of service in public safety and currently serves as the Chief of Homeland Security and Emergency Management for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Gary has a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice Leadership and Management from Sam Houston State University, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice Law Enforcement from Texas State University. He is a certified Texas Peace Officer, Certified Emergency Manager (CEM), and a graduate of the 256th Session of the FBI National Academy. Gary serves on the IPSA Emerging Technologies Committee and as an adjunct professor at South University in Austin.
Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the IPSA or any agency of the government.
If you ever wanted to learn more about something, but cannot invest the time to earn a degree, continuing education may be the right choice for you.
Continuing education offers busy adult learners a valuable and convenient way to expand their knowledge without having to invest a great deal of time. Generally, continuing education courses are short-term, focus on a single topic and may meet a required purpose for a job.
However, continuing education can offer so much more to eager learners, particularly those in areas of safety. Chief among its benefits are personal enrichment, employment success and career development.
When combined, these three aspects can generate superior continuing education courses.
Separately or combined, these three benefits make continuing education very appealing to learners. They help learners gain knowledge for personal satisfaction, boost a resume or career, appease an employer or gain a promotion.
Columbia Southern University designs its continuing education courses in occupational safety and health with these features in mind. Industrial Hygiene for Safety Professionals features a history of the topic and discussion of how the principles of physics, chemistry and biological sciences apply, appealing to some students’ interests in history and sciences. The course also discusses how the practice of industrial hygiene fits within an environmental health and safety program that gives students information to adapt their environmental health and safety program at their workplaces. As a resume builder, students learn about the latest health hazards to impress potential employers with their knowledge.
CSU also offers two continuing education courses for safety professionals eager for a career boost, promotion and/or personal enrichment.
The ASP Prep Course and CSP Prep Course are both designed to prepare students for the Associate Safety Professional Examination and the Certified Safety Professional Examination offered by the Board of Certified Safety Professionals.
From statistics to ergonomics to safety management and more, these continuing education courses will instill a huge amount of knowledge and preparation for anyone seeking certification.
CSU is an IPSA Supporter. All IPSA Members are eligible to receive a tuition discount – login to our Members Only page to learn more.
By Heather R. Cotter, International Public Safety Association Executive Director
On June 12, 2016, an unexpected act of terrorism hit a soft target in the City of Orlando late in the evening. The horrific attack – the deadliest in modern times since 9/11 – took the lives of 49 individuals and wounded 53 others.
Several first responders were on scene as the incident unfolded – an event that lasted over three hours.
While reviewing the below timeline, think about the importance of creating an integrated response – you will clearly see how it takes several teams and personnel to respond to an incident of this magnitude. Timeline source – FBI.
Orlando Police Dispatcher (OD) Omar Mateen (OM)
OD: Emergency 911, this is being recorded.OM: In the name of God the Merciful, the beneficent [Arabic]OD: What?OM: Praise be to God, and prayers as well as peace be upon the prophet of God [Arabic]. I wanna let you know, I’m in Orlando and I did the shootings.OD: What’s your name?OM: My name is I pledge of allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi of the Islamic State.OD: Ok, What’s your name?OM: I pledge allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi may God protect him [Arabic], on behalf of the Islamic State.OD: Alright, where are you at?OM: In Orlando.OD: Where in Orlando?[End of call.]
(Shortly thereafter, the shooter engaged in three conversations with OPD’s Crisis Negotiation Team.)
In these calls, the shooter, who identified himself as an Islamic soldier, told the crisis negotiator that he was the person who pledged his allegiance to [omitted], and told the negotiator to tell America to stop bombing Syria and Iraq and that is why he was “out here right now.” When the crisis negotiator asked the shooter what he had done, the shooter stated, “No, you already know what I did.” The shooter continued, stating, “There is some vehicle outside that has some bombs, just to let you know. You people are gonna get it, and I’m gonna ignite it if they try to do anything stupid.” Later in the call with the crisis negotiator, the shooter stated that he had a vest, and further described it as the kind they “used in France.” The shooter later stated, “In the next few days, you’re going to see more of this type of action going on.” The shooter hung up and multiple attempts to get in touch with him were unsuccessful.
(An immediate search of the shooter’s vehicle on scene and inside Pulse ultimately revealed no vest or improvised explosive device.)
Safeguarding first responders, rebuilding a community
As demonstrated in the above timeline, the chaos the first responders had to work through is unimaginable.
First responders are experiencing PTSD as a result of the attack – some have come forward publicly and others are apprehensive due to the stigma that is often (and wrongly) associated with it. PTSD in public service is a serious health concern that tends to have a negative connotation. This needs to change. We must safeguard all first responders so they can fully recover from critical incidents.
The City of Orlando has made significant strides to rebuild the community and their first responders. A ceremony was held in early May to honor the first responders for their bravery that night – more than 300 were recognized including 911 call takers/dispatchers, law enforcement, firefighters, EMTs, emergency room doctors and officers from neighboring departments. Similar ceremonies have also held from 2016 to today to honor and recognize the work of the first responders.
The City of Orlando and Orange County Government, in collaboration with Pulse, have jointly designated June 12, 2017, as “Orlando United Day – A Day of Love and Kindness.”
The city is holding several events to remember the victims and to rebuild the community. While this attack occurred in Orlando – first responders around the globe felt its impact.
Let’s all take a moment to remember the victims, the fallen and the first responders impacted by the Pulse attack.
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Technology in the squad car continues to rapidly evolve, and staying informed about the best IT advances continues to be a challenge for law enforcement agencies.
Video surveillance, license plate recognition, electronic ticketing systems and the latest vehicle dispatching and tracking technologies enable officers to safely cover more area and coordinate with other officers and agencies.
Today’s police officers, paramedics, firefighters, utility workers, transit operators and other public safety workers rely on advanced mobile applications, such as automatic vehicle location, traffic signal prioritization, computer aided dispatch, route and schedule management and fare payment systems that increase productivity and improve safety.
The main point of access for these applications is often from the vehicle because it’s equipped with onboard wireless connectivity and transmits and receives data during every single shift.
In-vehicle connectivity has become customary, with first responders and field service personnel driving cars, vans and trucks equipped with a network connection that provides convenient access to voice, text and video data.
However, if the vehicle has only one onboard connection, the setup involves a certain amount of risk. Any issues with network coverage, bandwidth or usage can mean delayed communications or, worse yet, no communications at all. Losing the onboard connection can have extreme consequences and can even mean the difference between life and death.
In-vehicle connectivity risk mitigation
How do you reduce this risk? By adding at least one more onboard network connection you can greatly reduce this risk. An alternative connection – to a secondary cellular network or some other format, such as Wi-Fi or satellite – creates a layer of insurance.
When the primary connection isn’t up to the task, the alternate connection can be brought online to keep communications intact. Having two or more available connections onboard the vehicle, or multi-networking, protects against worst-case scenarios and increases resilience for emergency response and other in-field services.
What is involved in a multi-network concept? A multi-network concept refers to any setup that provides the vehicle with more than one network connection, meaning, there can be a mix of technologies onboard ranging from cellular and Wi-Fi to LMR, satellite, or new formats as they come online, such as the FirstNet network for public safety.
A multi-network router installed in the vehicle is used to manage the switches from network to network.
When are these typical network changeovers? Changeovers usually happen at three points of operation:
With the right multi-network solution in place, changeovers from one network to another can happen automatically without any kind of manual intervention and the necessary security protocols are maintained without interrupting the flow of work, even when there’s a VPN involved.
Furthermore, the selection criteria for each network connection can be customized, based on things like vehicle location, vehicle speed or the type of data being transmitted. The overall result is more efficient network usage, more effective field services and lower operating costs.
Impact of video
Law enforcement and other organizations are now using more video and at a higher resolution. The video is typically stored in the vehicle and then transmitted to the backend system at periodic intervals.
The mobile router can be configured to use a dedicated link to send video so the data-intensive video transmissions don’t disrupt or slow down the other services in use. Alternatively, the router can be configured to send video transmissions when the vehicle returns to its home base, using the depot’s faster, more secure Wi-Fi connection to transfer video.
Choosing the right multi-network mobile router
How does an agency choose the right mobile router for your workforce to ensure connectivity in the field? The operating costs and in-field effectiveness of a multi-network platform are heavily influenced by the ability of the router to manage seamless network changeovers and protect data.
The router’s switching speed, security features and programmability all affect how well the solution performs and how much it costs to manage. It’s important to consider all these factors when evaluating the various options available for mobile multi-networking.
Transitioning to a multi-network environment is a serious undertaking. To maximize your return on investment and fully realize the benefit to your agency, you should look at (minimally) these three things in a multi-network mobile router:
Choosing a mobile router that meets all three criteria lets you create a multi-networking environment that not only enhances efficiency, but it also adds value.
Group Mobile works closely with Sierra Wireless to offer the world a comprehensive offering of hardware, software and services for connected devices and machine-to-machine communications. Together, Group Mobile and Sierra Wireless provide innovative, reliable and high performing solutions.
Group Mobile’s team of industry experts can assist you in selecting, designing and implementing a multi-network environment for mission-critical fleets, request a free personalized quote. Group Mobile is an IPSA Supporter.
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