Throughout 2017, communities across the country are celebrating the 150th anniversary of Canada’s Confederation and looking back in wonderment as to how our society has changed and grown during this time. Although not as old as Canada, the Medicine Hat Police Service (MHPS) has been serving this community since 1899. Policing has changed markedly since those early days, when we policed the community on foot and on horseback with nothing more than a notebook, a pencil and maybe a handgun.
The world of policing is also very different now as compared to when I entered the career in 1994. Advancements in technology over the last 10 years have gone from a speedy walk to almost an outright sprint. In just a relatively few short years, technology has changed the way our officers do just about everything. When I first became a police officer, we only had a few computers available at the police station, much less in our cars.
These changes have been a mixed blessing for police services. Take for example the explosive spread of Internet access over the last few years. On one hand, everyday technologies and use of the Internet are a windfall to police for gathering intelligence on crime, but they have also made it possible for criminals to coordinate like never before, creating an entirely new digital space that needs policing. At the MHPS, we have embraced an array of new mobile and stationary technologies in an attempt to keep up with criminals and to provide a greater service to the community.
New technologies are increasingly intertwined with our daily work, especially for police officers on the front lines. The software, hardware and communications networks equip our officers with enforcement and investigative tools to provide them with more instantaneous information on demand in the field. Some of the tools we are presently researching include license plate readers, predictive analytics, cloud storage, 3D crime scene imaging, e-ticketing, facial recognition technologies, videos from body cameras and video from drones that are used at crime scenes and collisions are all being explored for our future use. These tools will provide MHPS with aggregated rich data sources that will enable investigators and analysts to gather increased evidence on investigations.
As a modern and progressive police service, the MHPS must be flexible and adaptive to the needs of the community and influences that drive change. These new technologies are necessary for police in a world that is being deluged and interconnected by information. Information management and information technology are important resources for any organization in today's world. Utilizing the most advanced technologies to manage all this information is vital to underpinning the success of policing operations and to the continued offering of quality services to the citizens of Medicine Hat.
As technology and policing become ever closer linked, our police service will be able to create greater efficiencies and upgrade our capabilities to put increasing pressure on criminals. We are not simply looking to adopt any new technology that comes along, but strategically by researching products with a discerning eye to determine what product will provide value and ultimately enhance community safety.
Inspector Tim McGough served six years in the British Army and started his career with the Medicine Hat Police Service in 1991. He has served in numerous units, including patrols, Tactical Team and the Special Operations Unit. He currently provides leadership and support to the Administrative Services Division with the Medicine Hat Police Service.