Being a good patrol officer means you have to be a good observer. Patrol officers observe people, places, things and events. They get to know the rhythms and patterns of life in their patrol areas and they notice when those patterns are broken. Most of what officers see and hear is never documented, because it’s just part of the cadence of life in their daily beat. But sometimes they see something out of the ordinary – an unfamiliar car cruising a quiet neighborhood late at night, an increase in vandalism in a new location or lights on in a commercial building after hours.
Most of that information is never acted on; it’s stored away in their memory, to be forgotten and not shared with their fellow officers. But if that information does become relevant, it can be hard to work with undocumented memories. From memory alone, it’s almost impossible to answer questions like:
- What night did I see that red truck, and at what time?
- Is there really an increase in broken windows on this street, or did I just not notice it until now?
- Does that plumbing supply warehouse always leave their lights on during the weekend?
This is where something like a Field Activity Report comes in handy. It provides street-level intelligence, not only so the officer collecting it can remember it, but also to share with other officers on his or her beat. Your department may have another name for it, or maybe you don’t do it all because of the difficulty documenting, storing, and searching through thousands of observations over time.
That’s why Geolitica has developed what we call the DFAR: the Digital Field Activity Report. Officers using our DFAR can collect and store information that is geo-tagged, time-stamped, and attached to that officer. The data in a DFAR is indexed and searchable so the originating officer can easily retrieve it and other officers easily find it.
DFARs are visible on your patrol map as a type of POI (point of interest). They are designated with a Report logo, which looks like a pencil writing on a piece of paper. You can see them on the map below.
Other officers can also add to the DFAR, allowing discussions to develop over time. This is what a sample DFAR looks like:
How can DFARs be used in the field?
Reporting: Call up the Geolitica map and quickly see if other reports have been posted for a given location. If they see a DFAR icon, they just click on it to review what they or others have posted about the location. Since all the text is searchable, they can also search within DFARs for specific text or keywords. For example, if there is a rash of catalytic converter thefts, they can just search for records that have the phrase “chop shop” in them.
Collaboration: DFARs can also act as bulletin boards for specific locations. Officers or analysts can set up different discussion topics and threads within a DFAR, allowing them to collaborate on different problem-solving approaches. They can document the problems they’re trying to solve, describe the actions they’ve taken at this location, and reference assistance from outside agencies such as county health or public works. DFARs support seamless digital handoff of intelligence among all of your resources and partners. DFARs thus help your team document and track problems and their solutions using existing crime-prevention methodologies such as CPTED (Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design), SARA (Scanning, Analysis, Response and Assessment) and best practices in community engagement.
For example, consider the challenge of managing activities across police, public and non-profit service providers dealing with homelessness. DFARs make it possible for each of these critical resources to share information about actions taken and problems yet to be handle in the micro-settings most impacted by homelessness. DFARs help ensure that efforts are not duplicated and the different skill-sets of police, public agencies, and non-profit agencies complement one another.
Now your officers can track and search for problem-solving areas by problem type, date, location, keywords, and officers involved. DFARs provide a great way to get everyone on the same page. Your team doesn’t have to search through paper reports or multiple systems to get access to street-level intelligence.
Back at the office, command staff and crime analysts can also have access to this information as well. DFARs help your agency get intelligence out of the heads of officers and into the hands of their fellow officers and other members of your team – helping build collaboration across your organization.
Interested in learning more about this new feature or any of our other features? Click on the button below to schedule a demo!