The Chatham-Kent Police Service is responsible for serving a mixed rural and urban population of approximately 110,000 residents in a geographic area spanning 2,400 sq km. One of the largest municipalities in southwestern Ontario, Chatham-Kent is made up of several small communities that once had their own policing services, but have since amalgamated. Today’s police force, made up of 240 employees in 20 specialized units, is embracing new technology that allows officers to spend more time in the field and less time in front of a desktop computer.
Providing police services in a municipalities spread across rural townships and agricultural land – was challenging enough. “In our main district, the officers are so busy it’s often difficult for them to find time to come into the station,” said Anita Scott, Project Technical Lead with the Chatham-Kent Police Service. “So we wanted to put the station in their hands. But to do so while on a budget was even more challenging.”
Like many police services, Chatham-Kent Police Service believed that a mobile wireless solution could be a cost-effective method of putting information in the officer’s hands, while helping to simplify management and maintenance. The ability to look up police information on-the-spot would help officers do their jobs more efficiently not only in police vehicles, but also on the streets and in their communities. But they knew that any implemented solution would have to meet the stringent security protocols required to access police data in the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC).
The Chatham-Kent Police Service worked with the Ontario Police Technology Information Co-operative (OPTIC) and Justice Technology Services (JTS), to do a thorough threat and risk assessment of their idea for a mobile solution.
The BlackBerry® solution was chosen as the most suitable platform for the deployment and BlackBerry smartphones were rolled out to 170 members of the Chatham-Kent Police Service.
One of the key reasons the BlackBerry solution passed the stringent security protocols of police forces in Ontario is because of its BlackBerry® Smart Card Reader and SafeNet® Smart Card technology. The BlackBerry Smart Card Reader is designed to allow mobile personnel to meet operational requirements for multifactor authentication with Bluetooth®-enabled BlackBerry smartphones, Microsoft Windows computers and PKI applications, without negatively impacting the user experience. In other words, a user must prove his or her identity with two or three different methods before accessing information – contributing to a much higher level of security.
Additionally, officers were given a way to access back-end data from their BlackBerry smartphones. Working with their partner, Mobile Innovations, a gateway was built into the back-end Niche-RMS 4.3 records management system and CPIC criminal information databases. Officers were also given the ability to send and receive e-mail from their BlackBerry smartphones.
To further enhance effectiveness in the field, Mobile Innovations also worked with the police service to roll out MPABeatBlog, MPATracker and MPADictation, applications designed for the BlackBerry smartphone. MPABeatBlog allows for up-to-the-minute information on missing persons, wanted criminals and officer safety. MPATracker allows the police force to track each officer’s location throughout the municipality, and MPADictation allows officers to dictate statements and reports directly to its data entry section, all using the BlackBerry smartphones.
Chatham-Kent Police Service’s Benefits
“In terms of business continuity, the BlackBerry smartphone is a device that replicates virtually everything an officer needs to do their job on the road and helps increase officer safety at a relatively low cost,” said Inspector Tim Mifflin with the Chatham-Kent Police Service.
Officers now have highly secure access to CPIC information from the convenience of their BlackBerry smartphones, allowing them to get police data when they need it, instead of when they get back to the station. Not only does the BlackBerry platform, BlackBerry Smart Card Reader and Safenet Smart Card provide a strong security framework for this functionality, it helps free up an officer’s time. This means they’re spending less time in front of a desktop computer and more time on the streets and in the communities – which may contribute to helping investigations move forward more quickly. The solution also simplifies management, since one administrator can maintain more than 1,000 BlackBerry smartphones.
With the applications deployed on the BlackBerry smartphones, the police force gains some clear advantages. For example, MPATracker is designed to track an officer approximately every 15 seconds anywhere in the municipality. “If one of our officers is missing, we have the ability to set up a track right away, and we can determine where he’s located,” said Scott.
With mobile access to Niche RMS photographs can be viewed on BlackBerry smartphones. This can be useful in a scenario where an officer is searching for a missing child or a person who is lost. They can send out a photograph and description so every officer with a BlackBerry smartphone gets a crisp, clear photo.
But this is only the beginning. The solution will allow the Chatham-Kent Police Service to enhance the services they provide to the public through technologies such as computer-aided dispatch and the ability to replicate records management on a BlackBerry smartphone. “It’s revolutionized the way we do our business,” said Mifflin, “and it’s only going to get better.”