An Intern's Perspective - Police and technology

June 7th 2018

“Are you going to the Kentucky Derby?” A police officer asked Management Intern Andrea Sirois. The intern was wearing a long blue flowery shirt and large summer hat to observe a day-long training at the shooting range. In hindsight this might not have been the most practical outfit for her to don, but this was Andrea’s first time in a shooting range and just her second day at the Marana Police Department as part of her month-long shadowing of all the Town Departments.

“I am going for best dressed!” the Intern responded, matching the officer’s friendly banter.

Marana’s Police Department definitely has a positive attitude and healthy sense of humor, which tends to be important since they typically deal with emergencies and crisis management on a daily basis. It also plays well when interacting with the public in non-emergency situations.

“Community policing” is the approach Marana Police Department embodies when interacting with Town of Marana residents. This philosophy follows the ideals that these public safety officers are ambassadors for our cities and towns, and participate in direct involvement with citizens.

This philosophy manifests in organized events like Coffee with a Cop or Dispose-A-Med, or during casual situations like making a joke about the Kentucky Derby to put a nervous Intern at ease. These interactions create personalized relationships between public safety officers, residents, and local organizations.

Shadowing the police department this week has brought up great conversational pieces and perspectives. Within two days it provided hands-on experience from observing a police ride-along to weapons training in the shooting range. It was also an opportunity to speak with the police records department, crime scene investigations, and emergency dispatch divisions of the police department.

One of the more remarkable observations during the police ride-along was discovering the evolution of technology in the public sector. Officer Goering, who has 13 years of experience in public safety, explained methods used in the past before vehicle laptops were readily available. When dispatchers would give information, some officers would pull over on the side of the road to take notes on a notepad while others would take a dry erase marker to their window to jot down the critical information.

This happened just 13 years ago.

From a resident perspective, 2005 was a time of so much available technology. Most residents had access to the Apple IPod Classic, and the Xbox 360 was launched that same year.

The police records division was especially enthusiastic about the advancement of police laptop access because it meant they no longer had to decipher the police officers’ handwriting for written reports. Although one officer admitted that they still like to provide reports in handwriting, if only it were still an option.

Having in-vehicle laptops significantly helped improve communication between dispatchers and officers, created more efficiency in the records division, provided information to court systems, and provided more accurate and timely reports.   

Overall, the Marana Police Department is very interesting. The range and scope of what they do day in and day out is fascinating, and more far reaching than one would assume from the outside.  While keeping the community safe is the primary goal, there are far more methods of accomplishing that than what we may see on television procedurals.  

If you are interested in getting involved with Marana’s Police Department and would like to learn more about the pressing issues of the department or interact more closely please look into the Citizens Academy Police Department:

Andrea Sirois is a post-graduate intern at the Town of Marana during summer 2018.