Improving Police-Community Relations Through Transparency and Accountability

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Improving Police-Community Relations Through Transparency and Accountability


The Issue


Recent highly publicized police shootings and use of force incidents, and the resulting civil unrest, has both community and police leadership questioning past practices and searching for solutions.  Issues of mistrust and conflict within many communities have a long been an issue in law enforcement.

Terrence M. Cunningham, Executive Director, The International Association of Chiefs of Police stated:


There have been times when law enforcement officers, because of the laws enacted by federal, state, and local governments, have been the face of oppression for far too many of our fellow citizens. In the past, the laws adopted by our society have required police officers to perform many unpalatable tasks, such as ensuring legalized discrimination or even denying the basic rights of citizenship to many of our fellow Americans. While this is no longer the case, this dark side of our shared history has created a multi-generational — almost inherited — mistrust between many communities of color and their law enforcement agencies. Many officers who do not share this common heritage often struggle to comprehend the reasons behind this historic mistrust. As a result, they are often unable to bridge this gap and connect with some segments of their communities…” 


While the number of police officers who are guilty of misconduct, excessive force, and abuse of power is relatively small; the impact of their actions is significant and often devastating Cops And Communityto neighborhoods, community quality of life, municipal finances, and public service careers. It is clear that better strategies, tactics and tools are needed to improve police – community relations and enhance public trust.


The U.S. Conference of Mayors Report on Police Reform and Racial Justice stated:

True police reform will not come about through improved policies and training alone. We must ensure that police fulfill their commitments to protect the residents they serve and that police build trust and legitimacy through transparency…”.



“A strong relationship between police and the communities they serve depends on transparency and accountability.”.


The responsibility rests with community and police leadership


John A. “Jack” Calhoun in a November 20, 2016, National League of Cities article wrote:


“Municipal leaders choose what kind of policing they provide their constituents.  In recent years, more have been choosing to place greater emphasis on police-community partnerships and co-production of safety, which necessitates a strong focus on equity, transparency, accountability, shared information, and police officer training.”


Information should be easily accessible to the community.  The Presidential Task Force on 21st Century Policing recommended that “to embrace a culture of transparency, law enforcement agencies should make all department policies available for public review and  regularly post on the department’s website information about stops, summonses, arrests, reported crime, and other law enforcement data, aggregated by demographics.”.


The Challenge


Police agencies are dynamic organizations that collect and store an overwhelming amount of data.  Gathering, formatting, and communicating data to the public in an understandable format, and converting data into actionable intelligence that allows leadership to establish internal compliance by creating a culture of accountability, is a near impossible task.  As the chief of a small police agency stated “it takes a research project” to locate data, correlate it, and report on issues of community interest and importance.


A consistent concern of many chiefs is that information, key documents, and vital performance indicators are not available in a timely fashion, often “fall through the cracks” and are lost in an ever-growing sea of data and daily demands.


Our Mission


At Altovista Technology our mission is to make our communities safer and better places to live.  We do this by helping police agencies enhance accountability, ensure policy compliance, create transparency, and restore the positive image of policing.


Altovista’s Arx Alert Solution


To improve your community’s perception of their police department, we have created a cloud-based software that utilizes your data to create a public facing transparency dashboard to keep your community aware of policing activity. The Arx Alert Community Transparency Dashboard integrates with existing systems and is designed to provide your community with timely data in an easy to understand format.Arx Dashbaord


The Arx Alert Management Awareness Platform, provides a 360-degree view of every officer, every activity, every day. Empowering agencies to enhance accountability and ensure that data vital to all aspects of police management, officer wellness, and risk reduction, is readily available, easily accessible, manageable and analyzed.


Through Arx Alert’s unique digital forms capability and integration with CAD/RMS, as well as other systems already in use, everything you need to manage your department and provide your community with excellent police service in an intelligent, proactive and transparent manner, is available all in one place.



Improve your communitiesperception of your police department through the Arx Alert Management and Community Awareness Platforms. 


One cloud-based software system that utilizes data and transparency dashboards to help you keep you and your community informed.  

What I Learned About Mental Health After 25 Years In The Field

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Are we doing our best to protect our human assets from the hazards of the job?  Whether your motivation is taking care of your people, protecting your investment, presenting your best image as a department to the public, or all of the above, the question is one we need to constantly ask and answer honestly.As a young trooper working in the small city of Niles and rural areas of Berrien and Cass County Michigan in the early 1990’s, I was frequently exposed to critical/traumatic stress incidents as a normal part of my duties.One Friday evening in 1993, my partner and I were dispatched to an “unknown accident”, which was pretty frequent at the Niles Post. When we responded to the scene, which was about five miles away from the post, we rolled up on a small red vehicle that had been driven off the right side of road into a ditch and hit a cement culvert. I immediately recognized the vehicle as that of a 19-year-old kid whom I played basketball with on Thursday evenings and had known since he was 13. I will refer to the 19-year-old as “Oliver”.My partner and I were the first emergency responders on the scene and both doors of the vehicle were locked. I climbed through the sunroof of the vehicle to get to Oliver, who was slumped over and gurgling blood. Emergency Medical Service paramedics arrived immediately after, and we were able to extricate Oliver from the vehicle and begin lifesaving measures. I volunteered to drive the ambulance eight miles to the trauma center in South Bend, IN. while paramedics continued to work on Oliver.  As I stood in the E.R. entrance waiting for my partner to pick me up after she cleared the accident scene, I finally came down from my adrenaline rush and began to look around. My uniform was covered with Oliver’s blood, and people were staring at me. My partner finally arrived, I walked outside, and we drove back to the post to write up the accident and end our shift.As we were outside the post unloading our patrol car, my partner began to let out a few tears and said, “I don’t know how much more of this I can take”. She had policed a fatal snowmobile accident earlier that day. I gave her a hug and told her she’d be alright and good job. We wrapped up the shift in silence and checked out at about 11:45 (45 minutes after the end of our scheduled shift). I decided to go back to the hospital to check on Oliver and was met in the E.R. waiting area by Oliver’s dad, whom I had never met. He told me that Oliver would have been glad to know that I was the one who had driven him to the hospital and that he was not going to make it. I laid in my bed next to my wife and shed many tears for Oliver and his father that night. I went back to work the next day and it was back to business as usual.Six months later, I was responding with lights and no siren to a burglar alarm complaint when I hit a ten-year-old boy who had run into the street from a driveway. I missed him with the front of my patrol car and hit him with the driver’s side before traveling another 20-30 yards off and back onto the roadway. I exited my vehicle, ran back to the boy to render aid and stayed with him until we loaded him onto an ambulance with two broken legs.After the incident, my post commander suggested that I make an appointment with our departmental psychologist. Through the debriefing and intervention process administered by the doc, we determined that I was dealing more with residual issues from the previous incident than the one that had just occurred.  Making that appointment and following through with the intervention process was the best career decision I ever made and prepared me for numerous stressful events and situations I would face in the coming years. My decision to follow the advice of my commander, who had my best interest at heart, enabled me to have a very productive and fulfilling 25-year career.I subsequently became a strong advocate for behavioral health services for public safety professionals. Now, as a licensed mental health professional, I am committed to helping today’s public safety leaders care for their most valuable assets the way my commander cared for me nearly 30 years ago. My hope is to provide you with invaluable information, insight, and services from an insider’s perspective that will enable you to promote overall wellness, job fulfillment, and longevity within your organization.