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IACP 2012: NC4 and Tampa PD have collaborated on SafeCop info-sharing system

Tampa PD's assist chief,
John Bennett, laid the
groundwork for NC4's SafeCop

The Chief of Police for Tampa, FL, Jane Castor, was prepared to praise a new information collection and dissemination system that her department helped conceive -- and is currently being offered by NC4 as SafeCop -- but the shooting of a suspect by a police officer in her city suddenly required Castor to leave the IACP show, hop a plane in San Diego and fly to Tampa on Oct. 2.

In her place, the Tampa Police Department’s spokeswoman, Laura McElroy, stepped in and told Government Security News that this new information system is a true game-changer. “We think SafeCop will revolutionize policing,” said McElroy. “It is the only tool that provides critical crime data at lightning speed.”

Essentially SafeCop is intended to speed up the process by which police offers -- and their commanders -- can share detailed information with each other in real time. Rather than wait days or weeks for a police officer’s official police report to be printed and made available, or for an officer to have the time to peruse printed bulletins thumbtacked to the wall of his police station, SafeCop puts a vast amount of real-time data -- including police reports, an officer’s individual blog entries, requests for information from fellow officers, etc. -- into a single database which can be accessed instantaneously by all authorized personnel. Better yet, a police officer can filter that vast quantity of data geographically (say, by the precinct he is patrolling on a particular day) or by keyword (for example, “dog bites”), in order to see only that data that is relevant to a specific query.

Here’s how NC4 describes SafeCop:

“NC4 SAFECOP is a revolutionary new crime fighting solution, and is already being proven to reduce crime on the streets of Tampa, Florida,” says the company’s Website. “NC4 SAFECOP changes the way officers police the streets by bringing them blogging capabilities, and combined with other police feeds, displays a graphical representation of crime almost immediately following the incident with additional drill-down details readily accessible at an officers fingertips.”

McElroy, the Tampa PD’s media relations director, notes that today’s SafeCop had its origins in a system initially devised by the Tampa Police Department’s assistant chief, John Bennett, known as an innovative commander who embraces the latest technology for fighting crime. “Under his leadership, officers analyze crime trends, devise daily attack plans and then deploy resources to solve and prevent crime,” says the police department on its Website. “This led to a 34% drop in part I crimes in 2009 while he was a Major overseeing District II.”

McElroy particularly highlighted the ability of SafeCop to collect and make available the specific blog entries of individual police officers. Prior to SafeCop, officer’s notes and day-to-day updates among each other were primarily confined to e-mail.

By contrast, using SafeCop, one officer might write a blog pointing out that he is looking for a red BMW that could be involved in a hit-and-run accident that occurred in the second precinct. That blog entry can be seen immediately by any and all officers patrolling the second precinct (or any precinct, for that matter), and could increase the likelihood that a second officer -- who happens to see a red BMW behaving suspiciously -- will “connect the dots” and pull over the driver of the red BMW for questioning.

Sorting through hundreds of emails that arrive in an officer’s in-box each day is too cumbersome; reading bulletins pinned to a corkboard in police headquarters is too hit-or-miss. NC4 believes that the Tampa Police Department, and departments across the country, will use SafeCop to vastly accelerate their internal communications.