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Yonkers PD Updates Systems to Enhance Operations, Transparency

The New York police department is aiming to improve public safety and communications with an integrated technology ecosystem that includes a real-time crime center, cloud-based software and more.

A police vehicle with it's siren lights on.
The Yonkers Police Department (YPD) in New York has adopted an “integrated technology ecosystem” meant to strengthen transparency and unify communications in the public safety environment.

From body cameras to robotic dogs, police departments across the country are exploring the ways data and other technological tools can support operations while building public trust.

The November announcement details the different components of this technology ecosystem from Motorola Solutions, including a real-time crime center, cloud-based software, body-worn cameras and more.

According to YPD Commissioner John Mueller, the conversation around adopting a set of tools like this started in June 2020.

While the implementation process of this technology will include phases of deployment with different components, like the license plate recognition and command center software, Mueller is hoping to see a complete rollout in about two years.

The civil unrest and calls for a more open department during the summer of 2020 increased the department’s efforts around transparency, an issue of focus in the city’s Police Reform Committee’s March 2021 Reform and Reinvention Plan.

Mueller explained that communities were asking their police departments for more transparency — starting with body cameras — which led to the launch of a pilot program in August 2020. That pilot launched the department’s relationship with Motorola Solutions and opened the door to explore other possible tools.

He noted that YPD has combated apprehension surrounding the new technologies with transparency about the intended uses, as well as by providing regular updates on successes and failures.

There were two primary issues with the department’s existing toolbox: outdated technology and a lack of connectivity between systems.

For example, the antiquated RMS system and CAD system lacked some of the ability to support data-driven decision-making. Additionally, none of the technology systems were communicating with each other.

Sam Rabadi, public safety specialist for Motorola Solutions, explained that the new integrated solution will build on the department’s current capabilities, allowing information to exist not in siloed systems, but rather in a more cohesive and connected system.

In addition to improving communications between critical systems, an important component of this new ecosystem is the Command Central Community, which allows YPD to share in real time information about what’s happening in the city, from a car accident that may impact traffic to road closures and even crime patterns.

Mueller explained that this feature will create a digital method of communication that can help inform residents about what the department is doing.

Enabling officers to draw information from various sources, like an RMS system or a CAD system, he said, allows YPD to put “cops on dots” — critical to ensuring public safety in a city of nearly 200,000 people.

“As far as gun violence [and] as far as overall crime, we’re easily the safest large city in New York state and one of the safest cities in the entire country of our size,” he stated. “But what Motorola allows us to do is to grab all those different metrics and data that will allow us to put the cops where they need to be when they need to be there.”

Motorola Solutions’ tools have been used in government agencies across the nation, including Glendale, Ariz., and Las Vegas, which served as models for the Yonkers implementation.
Julia Edinger is a staff writer for Government Technology. She has a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Toledo and has since worked in publishing and media. She's currently located in Southern California.