Over 30 years ago, I had the opportunity to serve as a Community Service Officer (CSO) in the UCLA Police Department. The CSO program allows students to participate in the UCLA campus safety, serving as additional “eyes and ears”. We helped out as field escorts, hospital and resident hall patrol, bike patrol, building security, and even with special events including the 1984 Olympics!
On the eve of the 1984 Olympics, I was on duty patrolling the UCLA hospital adjacent to Westwood village when I responded to a terrible incident on a crowded sidewalk. As one of the first responders on the scene, I used my push-to-talk radio to communicate what I witnessed and heard to the police dispatcher and requested additional emergency responder support for the victims.
1984 was also the year that Cisco Systems was founded. By connecting two disparate networks with a router, Cisco enabled computers to share data as never before. Today, networks are much more than routers, and networks do much more than share data with the Internet and Internet of Things (IoT). The 2016 equivalent of my 1984 push-to-talk radio is capable of more than ever before, and Cisco’s innovation in public safety doesn’t stop there.
Safer Communities in the Digital Era
Today, the digital network architecture provides the platform to help public safety organizations with
- Real-time situational awareness
- Intra-agency communication and collaboration (voice, data, and video)
- Data analytics and information sharing
- Increased community engagement and stakeholder outreach
The main objectives of public-safety organizations are to keep citizens, communities, and public spaces safe; with faster response, improved operational efficiency, and reduced costs. The challenges in public safety and emergency response are becoming more complex, and expectations are rising higher. There is increasing demand for critical communications across a growing spectrum of voice, data, and video. In a crisis situation, every second counts. Potentially life-threatening situations change in a heartbeat, and decisions must be made in seconds.
Today, the community plays a critical role as bystanders are often the first responders using smartphones and social media providing high definition video, photos, and information in real-time.
The role of community policing is more important than ever to help encourage trust, engagement, and best practices for safer communities. During National Community Policing Week, it is important to bring together our communities and build trusted partnerships to help address the challenges in our communities today.
Community policing recognizes that law enforcement cannot solve public safety problems alone and encourages interactive partnerships with relevant stakeholders — including community groups, nonprofits, faith-based organizations, and businesses. This active collaboration can improve public trust and fortify relationships, which not only advances public safety, but also deepens social connectivity and creates lasting solutions to challenging problems we face every day.
In my experience as a CSO at UCLA, I acted as a liaison between students and the UCPD and assisted with outreach activities. The UCPD knew that we needed to recognize community stakeholders and grow in our communities in college campuses, cities, and countries around the world for the sake of a safer society. This need persists today.
The IACP Cisco Community Policing Award recognizes best practices worldwide including this years winners and finalists from Canada, India, United Arab Emirates, and the United States.
Award winners will be honored at the IACP’s 123rd Annual Conference and Exposition in San Diego, California, and Cisco is excited to be attending this event. We’re looking forward to engaging with influencers in the community policing space, as well as the larger public safety industry. There’s never been a better time to work towards a safer community.
What are your best practices for community safety? Comment below and let us know!