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The Lake Havasu City Police Department has gone Google

Posted by Dan Doyle, Chief of Police, Lake Havasu City, Arizona

Editors note: Today our guest blogger is the Chief of Police, Dan Doyle, from Lake Havasu City in Arizona. Lake Havasu P.D. has 120 employees and they switched to Google Apps in May, 2011.

Lake Havasu City in Arizona is known to be the home of the historic London Bridge. Our Police Department is dedicated to making our community a safe and secure place to live and work. We are constantly looking for technologies that can help us provide the highest quality of services to the citizens.

Our police department had been using Microsoft Office for decades. Since most of our officers are primarily on the road in their patrol vehicles, accessing documents and information while they were away from their desks had long been a struggle. Many staff members would only be able to check email before they started a shift or after they returned to the office. Even though they were able to remotely connect to the data server via a mobile browser, they were only able to access straight text, not links or the rest of the Intranet.

These challenges prompted us to look for a solution that could meet the needs of our mobile task-force. After comparing available solutions on the market, the decision was made to adopt Google Apps for Government with the help of Google partner SADA Systems. Our officers are pleased. They respond to emails from the computers in their patrol vehicles or on their smart phones. In-person meetings are largely reduced as we are now able to exchange information much more efficiently.

Our operations Captain Joe Fiumara, having worked graveyard shifts himself, realized one of the unique challenges of police work is that officers are out on patrol 24/7 but detectives and the command staff work regular hours. Using Google Sites, Joe built an internal community site called “Water Cooler” that allows all officers to easily post questions and make comments via mobile devices even when they are out on duty. We’re proud that Joe has been recognized by Google as a Government Transformer for his ingenuity improving communication and collaboration in our department. We also use Google Sites for publishing training and policy documents, significantly reducing our paper consumption.

One of the most popular questions I received after our decision to migrate to Google was about the security of Google Apps. What I tell folks is that just because police departments tend to have good physical security, it doesn’t always mean we also have good network security. By moving our data to the Google cloud, we are able to take advantage of the FISMA certified security infrastructure that Google has built, which we have found to be more robust than the systems most mid to small agencies with limited resources (including our own department) are able to build on their own.

Our organization has a goal of increasing our mobility, enhancing communication, and reducing our use of paper. Google Apps meets our needs and moves us much closer to achieving our goals. Not only is our data more secure, but better access to information helps us keep the citizens of Lake Havasu more secure as well.