When members of the public discuss the issues surrounding the police, they will often speak of crime trends, public order issues, traffic concerns or the visibility of members of the Medicine Hat Police Service (MHPS). Rarely discussed would be issues relating to the storage and access of information. Currently the MHPS has approximately 40 Terabytes of data stored on site. If printed, this would amount to the equivalent to 2 million trees worth of paper, and would be four times as large as the printed collection of the entire United States Library of Congress.
The stored data includes a large amount of video, from our cell block, video-recorded interviews, as well as video submitted by third parties in the form of surveillance footage. The reminder of the data includes; scanned images of statements, provincial forms, training information and other police-related information.
The MHPS is required to store all of this information for a period of time determined in accordance with Provincial retention schedules. All information surrounding homicides and sexual assaults must be kept indefinitely, and less serious crimes are retained for a minimum of five years.
Current trends in law enforcement include the increased investigation into cyber crimes, the use of mobile devices, as well as new technologies including; body-worn/in-car cameras, license plate readers, facial recognition software, GPS etc. With the adoption of new technologies the MHPS must consider how to obtain and classify data, set retention schedules and retain the information.
The future of law enforcement information management will focus on three key areas; data storage, data security, and data analysis. The MHPS is currently exploring options on how to most efficiently store data, while also ensuring the security and privacy of that information. The costs associated to data storage and security are high and continue to rise.
The impact of ever changing technology can seem like an endless black hole of capital and operational resources. The MHPS is committed to ensuring that the Service is well prepared to address future challenges in areas of data management as our most important asset to our role are people and information.
-Inspector Brent Secondiak has been with the Medicine Hat Police Service since 1999 and has served the community in a variety of units including the Patrol Section, the Drug Enforcement Unit, the Major Crimes Section and the Administrative Services Section. He is currently a member of the Executive Team and provides oversight to a variety of sections, including Major Crimes, Community Safety, the Tactical Team and the Victims Assistance Unit.