Lakeview Upgrades Technology to Boost Police Force (Technology Advancements | Winner, Fewer than 5,000)
Posted 12/9/2013 12:00 am
The town of Lakeview is a retirement community of under 1,000 that sits on the south shore of Bulls Shoals Lake, just off the dam from where the White River picks back up on its way to the Mississippi.
It is a scenic, sleepy town whose economy is based on the tourism generated by the popular Bull Shoals Lake and White River.
Lakeview, however, has taken steps to put itself on the cutting edge of technology and to support its police department. Those efforts have earned the city recognition as a 2013 Arkansas Business City of Distinction. Specifically, Lakeview is a winner in the Technology Advancements category for cities under 5,000.
“We are continually looking for ways to improve what we have,” said Lakeview Mayor Dennis Behling.
Lakeview’s most recent devotion to technology began in October 2009 when the city purchased computer systems for its police cars. The system allowed officers to perform driver’s license and vehicle registration checks during stops while affording them more patrol time. It also gave officers the ability to update computer information remotely via wi-fi, releasing dispatchers from the responsibility.
“This program was viewed as a positive by many citizens and was shared with surrounding departments when they learned officers needed less office time to accomplish their duties,” Behling said.
The purchase of the system and the employment of dashboard cameras in Lakeview’s patrol cars to record pursuits and traffic stops were made for three primary reasons, Behling said: officer safety, public confidence and protection of the city from frivolous lawsuits.
“Every day, police officers can be and are falsely accused of doing something wrong in the performance of their duties,” Behling said. “Sometimes, these false claims result in loss of public confidence, officer discipline, in some cases termination and in rare circumstances, officers being incarcerated. Protection of the citizens of our municipality is of prime concern, however protection of an officer’s reputation and career is of equal concern.”
When the city purchased the equipment that allowed officers to run checks in the field, it replaced its dashboard video system with a special device that records officers’ line of sight. Over 10 years old, the previous system recorded only what could be seen from the dashboard.
“These systems are limited in their scope of view projecting only what happens directly in front of or inside the squad car,” Behling said.
The new system, the TASER AXONflex, records an officer’s direct line of sight — the video shows exactly what the officer sees and hears. Officers wear special glasses that hold the recording device.
“It was felt that giving the officers the ability to record the officer’s direct line of sight would be advantageous to protect them from any misrepresentations,” Behling said. “This new technology records video and audio from the officer’s point of view and the viewer of such recordings sees and hears what the officer sees and hears.”
In addition, the city updated to the new TASER X2 electronic control weapon.
“This is a new version of an existing, less than lethal, weapon carried by officers which like any side arm they hope they never have to use,” Behling said. “But if circumstances dictate that deployment of this weapon is the only option available, control of the situation while maintaining officer safety is a primary concern.”
The new equipment was funded by a federal Justice Assistance Grant and through city funds. The glasses that must be worn by officers to hold the AVONflex recording system were funded through private donations, Behling said.
Lakeview intends to remain a sleepy community. The investment made by its city leaders to enhance the technology used by its police force should go a long way toward keeping it that way.