West Bloomfield PD tests out new software

By: Thomas Franz | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published October 8, 2015

 The West Bloomfield Police Department has recently begun implementing Force LMS software.

The West Bloomfield Police Department has recently begun implementing Force LMS software.

Photo by Donna Agusti

WEST BLOOMFIELD — In an effort to create a more efficient office, the West Bloomfield Police Department has been beta testing a new computer program recently that allows personnel to digitally track and analyze records that were previously kept only in paper format.


The department is using the Force LMS program, which allows police departments to track, monitor and analyze training, uses of force and pursuits in one system. The program is currently being tested by five departments nationwide, including West Bloomfield. The software is free while it is in the testing period.


“We got it at the early stages just as it had rolled out, so a good part of our initial use was just kind of getting familiar with the system,” said Sgt. Dave Sage. “It’s capable of a large amount of different aspects of things you’d want to track, so it’s really kind of a learning process to see where everything was at and how it correlated.”


For now, Sage said, the department is using it primarily to track the training of individual officers. Prior to using the Force LMS program, Sage said, training records were kept in various file cabinets and boxes in the basement of the department’s headquarters, similar to most departments.


“Moving forward progressively, we want to be able to know what training an officer went to in a given year, or how many officers have gone to a particular class, or who is getting the most or least training, so we started looking for training software,” Sage said. “It was literally designed for police departments, so it had all of the aspects we were looking for.”


With a click of an officer’s name, Sage said, an administrator can pull up all of that officer’s training history.  


Jeff Felts, one of the designers of Force LMS, explained that the technology has several more applications.


By tracking the training of officers, departments can evaluate the success of instruction when that training is applied in the field. Departments are able to see which training methods work and who’s giving proper or improper instruction.


“There’s a major part of the training loop that’s missing: how to quantify and validate what we’re doing,” Felts said. “That’s where a lot of the problems in law enforcement are coming from today, because their policies might not exactly be the best policies to have, (and) the equipment they’re using may not be the best.”


The program, which acts as a companion to traditional police reports, also allows departments to track car pursuits and the use of force by officers. Officers input information about those situations, and the program tracks the events to provide a departmental snapshot of when chases occur or when force is used.


Sage said department leaders haven’t decided how much of the system they will eventually use, but it could have far-reaching impacts on the office, including scheduling for officers, if they find that certain events like car pursuits occur in a consistent pattern.


“You can say, ‘We’re having this particular problem with these conditions; let’s see what we need to do to make sure people are better prepared for that,’” Sage said.


What it boils down to for Felts is departments being able to better protect themselves and the public.


“It’s going to help departments figure out what’s working and what isn’t to help make improvements. When we improve that stuff, we eventually save lives,” Felts said. “We save officers’ and citizens’ lives because of improved training, equipment, and our policies are all better. When we do all that stuff, we get community support, we get community involvement, and they support us.”