Monday, June 20, 2011

Good things in small places

Kevin Sands is the police chief in Waverly, Virginia. He heads a department of seven in his small town. Waverly is a far more typical police force than Lincoln. In the United States, 90% of police agencies employ fewer than 50 officers, and half employ less than 10.

I met Chief Sands and his sergeant, Willie Richards, in San Diego last week, where I was unveiling our new location-based services application to a national audience of police technologists. Waverly and Lincoln shared a conference session. I presented about P3i, then Kevin and Willie followed with a presentation about how they are using Apple iPads to bring some great information technology to their small force.

Just as I have found a lot of uses for my iPad at work, so has the Waverly Police Department, and they've leveraged the applications very well, equipping their officers with some resources that would be the envy of big-city cops. Kevin had a nice set of Keynote slides demonstrating a variety of applications they are using for everything from language translation to report writing. Willie has hand crafted some very clever vehicle mounts with an articulating arm, by grafting together parts from a couple of sources.

I was impressed, as were others. There is a tendency to look towards large agencies for innovation and in research in policing.  I am convinced, however, that lots of great ideas bubble up in small agencies which have a key advantage over the big cities: they are more agile. Small agencies, though facing plenty of challenges, can often turn on a dime and implement innovative ideas quickly and well. By comparison, the big agency has a tougher time responding to change or opportunity.

There is probably a sweet spot at the nexus between large-enough-to-have-resources and small-enough-to-be-nimble. That's a good place to look for innovative and creative work, but don't ever count out the small places like Waverly, Virginia.


Anonymous said...

B1-055114 1620 06-16-2011 N 33 bet LEIGHTON and MERRILL 1620hrs case number B1-055114
Neg driving citation: No accident report for this on 6-16-2011 car hit pole:
Tom: could you see if the report is made and mis-posted some other place? I ahve picture on my blog and would like to add information
Thanks...Jim J

Anonymous said...

Director Tom-I had an occaision to ride along with a Police Sgt. friend of mine the other night and showed him the video on the P3i deal and he was very impressed. We don't come close to having that technology here.

We had an opportunity to grab a suspect in an assault. Subsequently we found he also had an outstanding warrant. With P3i I have a feeling we would have known that prior to running him on the computer and could have developed him as a suspect sooner just by clicking on an icon or two in the area.

Great stuff.


Anonymous said...

Very large agencies of any type can be like a supertanker, in that they have a lot of institutional inertia that makes it difficult to change course expeditiously.

Steve said...

Waverly, VA, is not far off the path I'll be taking to Duck, NC, this week for a family vacation. I'll be riding my new Harley, while the wife will be flying out. (Seems like every time I buy a new bike I get laid off from my job, as happened again last Friday, but that's another story.) Perhaps I'll stop to say hi to Kevin on the way and pass along your words of praise (in case he doesn't follow your blog).

Tom Casady said...

Jim J-

Try again. Sometimes it's a couple biz days before they are available online.


That would be very cool. Seemed like a great down-to-earth guy.

Chief Leonard A. Houloose said...

Director Casady: Any chance you plan present the specifics on P3I locally? -- Len Houloose, Papillion PD

Steve said...

It appears that changing my route so that I can visit the Waverly PD would not add any miles/time to my trip, but it will be Saturday morning when we pass that way. I'm doubting the police chief will be at the office on Saturday. I could be wrong. However, without some knowledge to the contrary, we'll probably skip that on the way out, at least. Coming back, it will be a Saturday again, so it may not work out after all. I'm also hoping to visit a once-removed second cousin (or something close to that) in another city near there, and I probably couldn't convince my son and his family to do two little side trips from our route. Too bad Kevin wasn't from Sandston, or Oakwood, or somewhere else on our path.

Maybe next time. Know anyone along the 101 coast highway out west? My brother and I may be biking out that way later this year. Being out of work has it's advantages!

Anonymous said...

During the late 60's and early 70's I rode the Coastal Hwy from San Fransisco to Santa Cruz quite often on my Sportster. At times Hwy 1 & 101 are the same but most people refer to the Pacific Coast Hwy as the one that hugs the coast. Take your coat with you because even in July it can get cold. Fog is often a problem at any hour of the day. At night it is a death trap with fog and deer both being a danger. There is beautiful scenery when visibility is OK but fog & darkness turn it into a nightmare.

Gun Nut

Tom Casady said...


Invite me up.

I just did a session at the NCIJIS conference in Kearney a fw weeks ago with about 30 Nebraska agencies.