A few simple questions guide our investments in technology:
- Will the technology improve the safety of our Officers?
- Will the technology extend the reach and sight of our Officers?
- Will technology allow us to solve more crimes?
When one of these questions is a resounding yes, we invest. In fact, our tech budget is one of the highest in the nation for a department of our size — a benefit of being part of a City with financial stability.
Here are a few examples of our technology in action.
Drones for Law Enforcement
Our drone fleet currently consists of 11 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). As you might suspect, we don’t need to recruit sign-ups for drone training.
Rather than show off the specifications of this equipment, consider their impact on everyday life.
On February 5, 2019, a troubled teenager from the California School for the Deaf ran away. A call came into Fremont PD at 8:32 p.m. asking for help in locating the youth. Shortly after, we deployed a drone while Officers conducted an on-foot search.
At 9:04 p.m., the drone operator aided by a thermal imaging camera — this was a nighttime search over rugged terrain — pinpointed the student, relaying this information to the Officers and his friends searching on the ground.
The young man was immediately taken to the right resources for help.
A conventional search of this type could have easily taken several hours and required more resources.
Our Body-worn Cameras and In-car Camera Systems for Gathering Evidence
We recently invested in a system from WatchGuard that brings together body-worn cameras and panoramic in-car cameras in one integrated video system.
Another Officer favorite is the automated license plate reader (ALPR) installed on patrol vehicles that can scan and run license plates automatically — no hands needed.
It’s all about helping the Officer.
In these cases, the technology is a huge asset in collecting evidence ranging from witness statements to time stamps of a crime.
Electronic Vehicle for Patrol
You’re looking at a zero-emission patrol vehicle.
We are the first police department in the country to customize a used Tesla Model S into a fully deployable patrol vehicle (now cruising the streets of Fremont).
This is not a trophy vehicle.
After the testing phase and performance evaluation, we aim to add more in the future.
This Electric Patrol Vehicle Pilot Program is part of the Citywide green initiative to shape a more sustainable community. The Fremont Police vehicle fleet is responsible for a total of 980 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually. We want to change this, and our EV patrol initiative has potential to eliminate 10% of the City’s greenhouse gas emissions.
One final point —
After crunching the numbers, it is estimated that the Tesla is actually lower in cost than the traditional Ford combustion engine vehicle based on 90,000 miles over a 5-year period.
We’ve stored the purchase order for the first Telsa patrol car just in case the Smithsonian comes calling.
We issue an iPhone with unlimited data to every Officer, so it’s easy to separate work from the personal stuff.
The Future of Technology for Law Enforcement
As part of Silicon Valley, we have a front-row seat to a never-ending stream of inventions.
We’ll continue to evaluate and invest in technologies for law enforcement.
But we’ll never lose sight that our work starts and ends with people, our Officers, and the community we serve.