When the Arizona Department of Public Safety looked for a CIO, Cmdr. Jeffery Resler's experience as a Highway Patrol officer put him at the top of the list. On the job since January, Resler has used his background in business and on the street as an officer to coordinate the information technology strategic plan for the DPS.
What is the significance of having an experienced law enforcement officer in your position?
I understand the needs of the officer. I understand the needs of the operation site. Yet I have a background in business, so I understand the business strategic planning for the agency, where we need to go as a law enforcement agency. We're unique because we deal with every aspect of the criminal justice community.
It's not just the business processes. It's the intelligence; dealing with domestic violence; domestic terrorism; mobile computing; integrated justice programs; continuity of business plans that relate to law enforcement; the statewide telecommunications network, our statewide criminal justice information system network where we provide information to the entire state through NCIC.
So it's not only the perspective of what do you do in-house for the daily user sitting at a PC. It's what we do that affects the officer on the street that ultimately affects the public.
How has your job evolved?
I have a pretty strong background in computers and technology and networks, but I'm also our domestic preparedness command-center commander.
When the events of 9-11 occurred, law enforcement and homeland defense became even more important. Transferring of information became even more important. Looking at systems that provided officers up-to-date, current information but also allowed them to provide that information back became even more apparent.
Now we spend a lot of time looking at business plans and equipment and strategic designs that assist in the smooth and efficient mode of information for the law enforcement community from a public safety perspective on highway safety issues, criminal investigative issues and narcotics transporting issues.
So it's nice coming from the background of the law enforcement perspective of knowing what the user on the street needs.
Is Arizona working with other states?
We partner with a lot of different states and a lot of different projects. We have contacts through an intelligence network with California, New Mexico and Texas.
We also exchange a great amount of information on projects related to our public safety wireless network - the potential upgrade for that, moving from an analog to a digital network in the future. So we maintain constant contact with a number of law enforcement agencies looking at the best way and the safest and efficient way to provide data and voice communications for law enforcement officers on the street.
How has the use of public-safety technology evolved?
A lot of times, agencies fail to look at their strategic business plan for their law enforcement agency and see how they can leverage IT to make their business plan work better like you do in any business.
I don't think its been done very successfully in law enforcement. Now, at least in this agency, we're saying this is what our strategic business plan is. This is what our strategic long-term IT plan is.
How do we marry those two and leverage technology to make our business plan better? How do we make it more efficient? How do we do something and not buy it and then put it in place just because it's the current trend? Does it really work? Does it really save the officer time? We're looking very closely at how to do automated citations. The technology just isn't there yet. It's costly.
What's your management style?
I spent my first 45 to 60 days in here just listening. It's nice coming from a law enforcement perspective that I've known most of the people that I work with and I've been with them for a long time.
And I know some of the issues. But I got really close to the IT staff and listened to their concerns. I had an open ear and tried to build a good personal relationship, not only with everybody here, but also with the users so I could set realistic goals [and] be accessible and responsive to them. And I started establishing credibility for not only the position but the agency by doing things that benefited them.