10/24/2011 : Sheriff Ricky Edwards: Utilizing technology to advance law enforcement
Over the past few years, technology has been developing at a record pace.  These advances impact all aspects of our lives, both personally and professionally.  Innovative computer software, real-time mobile applications, and improved wireless capabilities are just a few examples of these new effective tools, which allow law enforcement officers to better serve the public by receiving information in a more accurate and timely manner.
The biggest challenge this new technology presents is utilization.  How can law enforcement officers manage these new technologies and integrate them into the workplace?  Jefferson Davis Parish Sheriff Ricky Edwards, has consistently been a strong advocate for technology who works to ensure his office and the Louisiana Sheriffs’ Association (LSA) take full advantage of all that technology has to offer.   
Under Sheriff Edward’s guidance, the Jefferson Davis Parish Sheriff’s Office has implemented the latest technologies into almost every aspect of their policing.  Since much of a patrolman’s time is spent on the road, many of these technologies are found in the patrol vehicle.  For example, all Jefferson Davis Parish patrolmen are equipped with laptops in their units, which allow patrolmen to run license plates and perform background checks while working in the field.  Additionally, each patrol unit contains an in-car video camera and videos can be reviewed daily to analyze how a patrolman interacts with the public for training and security purposes.  Finally, all units contain GPS vehicle locators.  This provides the location of each unit so that the unit in closest proximity to the incident can be dispatched, yielding a faster response time.  This also has an alert system, which can track speed of vehicles and notify the Sheriff when greater than two units congregate.  All of these new capabilities are created to enhance the law enforcement officer’s ability to quickly, accurately, and safely perform their duties.
While many of these in-vehicle technologies are becoming more commonplace in the law enforcement community, Edwards does not stop there.  He is one of the first sheriffs in the state to implement some of the newest and most innovative technologies for Jefferson Davis Parish.  For instance, every Jefferson Davis Parish detective has an IPad, which allows them to more easily share information through video and file sharing, and through the utilization of common applications created for law enforcement.  One such application called “Field Interview” allows law enforcement officers to input information, take pictures and immediately share this throughout the parish and the state.   
Another example of innovative new technology for law enforcement is a newly developed software package called “Photo Lineup.”  Photo Lineup was developed through a partnership between Louisiana State Police, Baton Rouge based software development company, Thinkstream, and the Jefferson Davis Parish Sheriff’s Office.  Now the development of a photo lineup, which used to take hours, can be completed digitally in minutes using the driver’s license database from the Department of Motor Vehicles.  Finally, Jefferson Davis Parish Sheriff’s Office has partnered with BI2 Technologies and OffenderWatch to use a national, web-based system called SORIS (Sex Offender Registry Identification System), which identifies convicted sex offenders using retina eye scans.   
But Sheriff Edwards’ role as a leader in technology has expanded farther than the Jefferson Davis Parish lines.  For example, the Jefferson Davis Parish Sheriff’s Office serves as the center for the state’s LACCIE (Louisiana Civil and Criminal Information Exchange) hub.   The LACCIE network was developed and implemented in partnership with Thinkstream, Inc.  It is the largest Integrated Criminal Justice Information System (ICJIS) in the nation, connecting over 450 agencies in real-time to 700 distinct state and federal criminal justice databases and 13,000 users, with over 25,000 hits daily. This allows law enforcement agencies and officers in the field to access criminal information instantly from their desks, vehicles, or handheld devices.
All of these emerging technologies of the past fifteen years are becoming more available and affordable to local law enforcement making it easier for sheriffs and law enforcement agencies to better communicate and identify criminals in their parishes.  “My goal is to put as much information as quickly as possible into the hands of the deputies on the street so they can be better informed before approaching a potential criminal,” Sheriff Edwards said.
“None of this would be possible without our partnerships with Department of Corrections, Probation and Parole, Louisiana Commission on Law Enforcement (LCLE) Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP), and the Louisiana State Police.  By working together we can not only ensure law enforcement officers in the field are provided with the latest technology, but also that the judicial system as a whole is strengthened,” Sheriff Edwards said.
In the future, Edwards will work with the LSA coordinating information and technology.  His goal is to personally visit every sheriff in the state in order to determine their needs and help them combine their resources and implement the latest technologies. 

Lauren Labbé Meher
Communications Director

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