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Microsoft Industry Blogs - Canada

Law enforcement has always needed to be resilient, in order to maintain justice and protect communities. Historically, first responders developed agile and mobile ways to work when faced with natural disasters like floods, earthquakes, and forest fires. The pandemic raised a whole new challenge. First responders were on the front lines of contagion. Public safety was threatened while the virus had the potential to make large numbers of first responders unavailable for active duty.

Around the world, many agencies moved to remote work, even for first responders. Agencies put phased squads into the field, while making secondary line officer and support personnel remote. Patrol officers, detectives, and administrators were isolated so they could be utilized if the frontline responders were exposed to the virus. This model led to quick adoption of Microsoft Office 365, and specifically Microsoft Teams.

Rapidly evolving digital tools are changing the ways law enforcement agencies work. When used properly, the tools can help agencies to streamline internal communications and workflows, and to collaborate internally and externally using the highest security and compliance standards. Microsoft Teams has helped law enforcement agencies around the globe achieve this goal.

Streamlining internal communications and workflows

By nature, much of law enforcement is mobile. Microsoft Teams can help departments communicate more quickly and effectively, and to collaborate in a secure digital workspace.

Agencies can gain interdepartmental efficiency as well as cross jurisdictional efficiency and insights. Teams can become the single source for file management, scheduling, conferencing, and even instant messaging for internal and external resources.

For example, patrol supervisors can schedule shifts and communicate changes securely and seamlessly, streamlining processes like scheduling. They can stay better connected with their officers, communicating securely and even “face-to-face” with video on the fly.
An officer in a complex situation could use Teams to discuss the issue via conference call with their supervisor, a detective, and even other agencies that share a Teams account. The ability to use any device in any location provides instant access to information for making decisions in the field. This can limit costly mistakes and ensure positive outcomes.

Law enforcement also has a valuable role in the judicial process; however, scheduling an officer for a court appearance is often done blindly. Teams can link the courts and police agencies, using a shared calendar to reduce the back-and-forth friction of trying to align cases and work shifts. Microsoft Teams can even unite mobile officers with courtrooms. This can increase the speed of justice, as well as reduce court dismissals and overtime costs.

While working their shifts remotely, officers could collaborate real-time with an attorney in court: to give testimony, provide requested documentation, or answer in-session questions without delay. Microsoft Teams also provides transcription and language services to meet all needs for accessibility and understanding.

Finally, the meetings can be recorded and saved for evidentiary and disclosure purposes. Teams makes the entire communications process seamless and secure.

Enhancing external collaboration for better outcomes

Jurisdictions have boundaries, but criminals do not recognize those boundaries. In fact, they actively exploit boundaries to evade detection and capture. To solve crimes quickly, protect constituents, and deliver better outcomes, law enforcement agencies need to collaborate effectively with external agencies and partners.

Microsoft Teams is uniquely positioned to address the complex cross-agency landscape in a very simple way, all while maintaining agency data integrity and privacy.

Microsoft Teams has built-in security protocols:

  • Data is labeled and classified so it can be appropriately assigned according to standard protection policies.
  • Teams automatically blocks or limits access if a user doesn’t have the right permissions or has not verified identity.
  • Agencies can further encrypt, limit, or block access to specific pieces of information.

Consider working a cross-jurisdictional case. You have a victim statement and need to check another jurisdiction’s surveillance video. By giving the external partner guest access, you can chat and collaborate through built-in apps, while sharing only permissioned data and maintaining complete control over your files. You can even store those shared documents and chat messages—with version control—in case you need them for future information requests.

From helping U.K. police forces collaboratively combat crime, to enhancing Belgium’s national police force’s communications, Microsoft Teams has proven its ability to enhance global law enforcement. Read more about how Teams can help law enforcement agencies and departments, including real-world examples, in the full whitepaper.