The Pinole Police Department Featured in Police Chief Magazine

The Pinole Police Department is featured in the March 2020 Issue of IACP Police Chief Magazine.  The theme of this issue is Innovations in “Smart” Policing and features the innovative best practices of police departments worldwide.  The Pinole Police Department has deployed a Video Reporting System that introduces a new way for their department to interact with the public.  Below is the text of the article:

Face-to-Face Communication Reenvisioned

With the spread of social media and constantly advancing communication technologies, law enforcement agencies are constantly exploring new ways to speak to their community members, including communication through common platforms such as twitter and Facebook.

While many agencies use social media to gather information from the public on criminal activities and to
share important notices, the administrators of the Pinole, California, Police Department have introduced a new face-to-face way for the public to communicate with officers.

The Video Reporting System is the result of a strategic planning meeting about innovation and enhanced ways to engage with the residents of Pinole. To improve the agency’s community engagement, Chief Neil H. Gang led an effort to implement a service that would allow community members to report nonviolent crimes and suspicious activity without leaving their homes or offices—yet still connecting with an officer.

Using applications such as Facetime and Skype, as well as smart video devices like Facebook Portal, community members can virtually contact officers from nearly any location. Since the system’s launch
in February 2019, the service has been offered two days every week for limited hours; however, administrators hope to adjust the hours upon evaluation of the service. To ensure the effectiveness of the system, there are certain requirements for reports made via the video reporting system:

  • The crime must not be an emergency or incident needing immediate officer response.
  • The user is at least 18 years of age.
  • The user has a working email address.
  • The crime occurred within the City of Pinole, but not on the freeway.
  • Evidence does not need to be collected.

Although there were initial concerns about the community adopting this new way of filing police reports and engaging with the officers, community members have expressed their appreciation toward the police department’s new system. Chief Gang said, “Our citizens have advised how user friendly this platform has been, and they really have praised the level of engagement that they have had with the officers on the other end.”

Users have also praised the system’s convenience. The department has received feedback from community members explaining that they value the ability to see and engage with a live officer without having to travel to the department. Chief Gang stated that this has also been advantageous to those who do not reside in the community but are traveling through.

Not only have community members shown their support for the video reporting system, the Pinole Police Department officers have also found it to be a positive experience. Upon hearing the advantages of the system, Chief Gang said that officers instantly took to the idea of becoming community outreach officers.

Due to their enthusiasm, guest officers are scheduled to answer questions to a live audience, creating
more opportunities for engagement between officers and those they serve beyond crime reporting.

Because the Pinole Police Department is always searching for innovative ways to better serve their
community, law enforcement personnel have been working toward obtaining their American Sign
Language certification to make the community engagement program more inclusive.

The Pinole Police Department is dedicated to being visionary and evaluating different ways to improve
the level of service that is provided to its community. “We observe and research available technology, and we determine what we best can utilize that’s going to help us provide better service for our community and make us more efficient as an organization,” Chief Gang said. “We feel this next-gen community engagement tool is just another mechanism to assist us in providing exemplary law enforcement services for our community.”

Pinole Police Department offers two key tips for other agencies seeking to try video reporting in their

  • Ensure all platforms to be used sync with your agency’s current IT capabilities.
  • Conduct extensive community outreach prior to initiating the program.