By Jonathan Coronel
In a world where everyone with a smartphone is a reporter, a story is going to be told with every interaction between the police and citizens.
The only question is, who’s doing the reporting?
“There used to be a time when police chiefs would wake up every day and think about how to stay out of the news.
That has changed,” Chandler Police Chief Sean Duggan explains to a room of reporters.
Accordingly, Chandler police are at the vanguard of using technology to ensure that the facts of any given case are made clear.
The importance of technology is most evident in Chandler’s body-camera program: every single patrol officer wears one.
So far, body cameras appear to have been successful in presenting a close-up view of any given police encounter so that the matter can be properly dealt with in courts.
Additionally, Duggan argues that body cameras have reduced the necessity for officers to use force, which in his opinion always looks ugly.
“For most people, you tend to change your behavior, at least a little bit, if you are being recorded. This has proven to be a good de-escalation tool in some cases,” Duggan says.
With the use of body cameras, Chandler PD really does stand out as a leader among police departments across the country. According to a survey by the Major Cities Chiefs Association and Major County Sheriffs’ Association, only 18% of departments surveyed considered their body cameras fully operational in 2015.
In addition to body cameras, Duggan spoke to the assembled reporters about the other technologies Chandler officers have at their disposal, such as real time data analytics and the capabilities officers have in their patrol cars.
Chandler uses data analytics in order to deploy their officers more effectively and proactively. Chandler patrol officers also have computers in their cars with database information that they formerly would have had to return to the station to obtain.
Although Duggan considers Chandler police to be at the cutting edge of technological advances in law enforcement, he was also quick to emphasize that the cornerstone of their work, and what they have “tripled down on,” is good old-fashioned community engagement.
This is evident in their myriad community programs, such as the department’s Citizens Academy class for adults, which offers classes one night per week from August to November, and allows students to do a ride-along with an officer or observe a shift in Dispatch.
The Chandler Youth Academy runs for four days and allows kids to get hands-on experience about use of force, crime-scene investigation and forensics.
For those who like having their best friend alongside when they walk neighborhood streets, Chandler police recently implemented a Dog-Walker Watch program.
Avid dog-walkers attend an hour-long class on how to better serve as valuable eyes and ears for the police department in their spare time.
According to information officer Det. Seth Tyler, the program has been a hit among dog-walkers thus far.
Overall, Chandler police are doing a good job, with the city’s overall crime rate currently 21% lower than the national average, according to AreaVibes, a website that analyzes cities across the country.
While the innovations such as body cameras are effective and important in a society with rapidly changing technology, fundamentally it’s the basics that really do the trick, says Duggan.
“We have to have the public’s willingness to cooperate and help us.
“Treat people the way you want your family to be treated; it’s a simple philosophy.”