Having a more mobile frontline police presence focussed on crime prevention gains more impetus from today as all Oamaru officers now carry iPads and iPhones.
Yesterday, representatives from Vodafone and police national headquarters were in town for a familiarisation day for officers with the new technology.
At Oamaru Police Station, 22 general duties officers have been issued with iPhones and iPads, and eight CIB and administration staff have iPhones.
Oamaru police Senior Sergeant Jason McCoy said the national technology roll out was exciting for the town as less time would now be spent in the office, freeing up officers for more proactive policing.
The iPhones and iPads can be used to access information from a national database. Officers previously had to get access to a police station computer or by radio to the police communications centre.
Police applications are installed on the devices, including an app to assign themselves to and complete jobs and a database system which allows access to offenders’ details and other information.
“It will be really good for us in relation to less time on the radio, officers being able to do more of their work while they are out,” Mr McCoy said.
Mr McCoy was particularly impressed by the amount of information now available at the officers’ fingertips.
“They have the ability to not have to wait for the communications centre to check cars, or people, they now have the ability to do that from their own device,” he said.
“There’s been lots of good feedback in relation to the devices especially because it has the ability for instant identification of people.
“I think it’s just a fantastic tool that’s going to allow us to better service the Waitaki community.”
Use of the devices is expected to gain frontline staff about 30 minutes of productivity per shift, equating to 520,000 hours per year. The expected time savings will be reinvested into preventative policing activities – in keeping with the police “Prevention First” operating strategy.
Oamaru police have already seen the benefits of the move away from paperwork, with three staff issued with devices a month ago as a trial.
“We’ve had three people who have had them for about a month to address any issues that we have here, and now we can go to them for help, and they have found them very beneficial,” he said.
Mr McCoy said quicker information, and not having to return to the office for smaller enquiries, should make things happen more efficiently for Oamaru police and the Oamaru community.
By Rebecca Ryan