Over the past two decades, there has been a notable shift in public priorities regarding community issues such as homelessness, leading to changes in policing strategies. Local law enforcement agencies have emerged as key community care partners, often being the first to respond to these incidents and the initial point of contact for individuals experiencing quality of life issues. Collaboration among various groups is essential for effective prevention, intervention, and stabilization efforts. Fortunately, modern technology offers ways to make these partnerships easier.
With digital tools being an integral part of our daily lives, technology-enabled collaboration and support have transformed how communities unite to offer care, support, and resources to individuals in need. This blog explores the role of these applications in community care, highlighting its benefits and how it empowers law enforcement agencies and organizations to build stronger communities.
The Power of Technology in Community Care
Modern technology holds tremendous potential in bridging gaps and overcoming barriers present in traditional community care approaches. It can extend the reach of resources to a broader audience, enhance communication and coordination, and provide overall improved support. Here are some key benefits:
Enhanced Communication and Collaboration: Online platforms and tools enable instant and efficient interactions between community members, care providers, government agencies, and those in need. Real-time communication fosters collaboration, knowledge sharing, and effective problem-solving.
Accessibility and Convenience: Technology provides easier access to care resources and services, regardless of location or physical limitations, such as telehealth and virtual consultations.
Information Sharing and Education: Digital tools allow government and public safety agencies as well as other support organizations to disseminate important information, share resources, and raise awareness on various care-related topics.
Examples of Police Collaboration with the Community
In addition to these benefits, new public safety technology for law enforcement agencies offers a way to quickly share information with various agencies, such as Public Works, Parks and Recreation, Code Enforcement Officers, Mental Health Agencies, Homeless Outreach Teams, and many others. Through collaboration, these teams can support one another in addressing issues that extend beyond the scope of any single organization. This combined approach is invaluable in meeting the evolving needs of a community, while also reducing duplicated efforts within a jurisdiction.
a) Behavioral Health
Individuals with untreated, severe mental health conditions frequently face obstacles that hinder their access to appropriate services. Police officers, behavioral health providers, and community stakeholders can use modern technology to collaborate using real-time intelligence. Features such as discussion forums and crime bulletins enable agencies to adopt a more targeted approach in managing and allocating resources to address the specific needs of the community.
b) Homeless Outreach
Law enforcement's approach to homelessness has shifted from making arrests to providing resources and outreach to those in need. Solutions like FivePoint Solutions' Street Smart™ can aid in this effort by mapping homeless encampments and overlaying social service locations to facilitate collaboration. This information is used during events that require evacuations and can ultimately help agencies provide a more effective response.
c) Substance Use Disorder
Addressing this type of crisis requires a collaborative approach involving various stakeholders, including local governments, healthcare centers, and first responders. Applications, such as Street Smart, empower users to map locations of incident hot spots and engage in discussions. By plotting this data visually, the extent of the crisis becomes evident, and affected individuals can be directed to appropriate resources for assistance. Additionally, it enables law enforcement to enhance enforcement efforts by intensifying surveillance in areas with high activity.
Effective collaboration between law enforcement and other government workers can greatly enhance the safety and beauty of a community. With Street Smart's collaboration tool, authorities can quickly identify and coordinate remediation efforts to remove graffiti and repair vandalism. By documenting and discussing the incidents, the community can work together to reduce further acts of vandalism and promote a sense of pride in their surroundings.
Results at the Lansing Police Department
The Lansing Police Department wanted a coordinated effort between law enforcement and social service agencies to achieve a common goal of helping community members in need. A full-time social worker was integrated into the department because of the high volume of calls for assistance with other services being provided. This included county-wide resources for mental health issues, homelessness, and drug and alcohol addiction.
Having a coordinated effort required the social worker to be aware of every call the agency received pertaining to quality-of-life issues. They also had to have a way to communicate with the police. The Street Smart platform allowed Lansing PD’s social worker to read all the discussions pertaining to lesser offenses like trespassing, retail fraud, and issues within homeless camps. They can then identify the individuals associated with these complaints and add them to their task list of people to try to locate and communicate with. You can read the full case study here.
Community care can be enhanced with the right applications that enable individuals, law enforcement, and organizations to collaborate, share resources, and assist those in need. Going beyond standard CAD and RMS searches, these new tools help police agencies adapt to the times and change the way they handle crime and quality of life issues. Collaboration between law enforcement agencies and social service providers is essential. When both the criminal justice and social service systems work together using collaboration tools, the entire community sees the benefit. Learn more about Street Smart.