Some things are done a certain way because tradition demands conformity. As an example, take the police department roll call. For as long as any cop can remember, police officers start their shifts with a meeting at the station. The Pinecrest Village Police Department has dumped that hallowed ritual.
When Pinecrest cops hit the road, they just go. No need to come to the station first and waste time, thanks to a computerized system designed and built by students at Florida International University.
“It helps us a lot with police efficiency and being able to disseminate information quickly,” explained Sergeant Edison Cruz.
So what’s the impact of this new technology? The roll call room that you see in every police show on TV is virtually unused at Pinecrest Police because all the roll calls are virtual now.
“It’s 15 or 20 minutes they could spend patrolling versus sitting in a static environment receiving information from a supervisor,” explained Chief Samuel Ceballos, Jr.
“With the virtual roll call, everything’s already accessible, an officer logs on and gets the information right on time,” added Sergeant Cruz.
The system the Pinecrest officers use is actually called Virtual Rollcall. Chief Ceballos had the idea, and students and a professor at FIU turned it into reality. They worked on Virtual Rollcall for four years before it was good enough for Pinecrest Police to use it every day.
“And just imagine what an impact this thing can do nationwide,” said the leader of the project, FIU computer science professor Dr. Masoud Sadjadi.
Doctor Sadjadi says that’s his next objective, to get his class to work on improving the system so that larger police departments can use it, too. As it is, Pinecrest cops have the advantage of always being connected to the latest intel in a user-friendly format.
“Some information comes in in the middle of their shift and we can get that to them in real time,” Chief Ceballos said.
The chief says there’s another advantage: trading paper and clipboards for tablets and devices perfectly fits today’s young recruits.
“21st century policing is gonna require police chiefs to adapt somewhat to the millennials entering the workforce,” Ceballos said. “Young officers who were raised with computers as children like to receive their information in a digital format.”
So with help from the students at FIU, a small police force you may have never heard of is now on the cutting edge of law enforcement.