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Evidence-collection goes digital as police launch pilot project

Waterloo Regional Police are test-driving a new evidence-collection system, taking advantage of a pilot project in partnership with Axon Public Safety Canada.

The project offers digital options to collect evidence, a bonus during the current coronavirus climate, said police spokesperson Cherri Greeno, noting the trial run is being done free of charge through the end of the year, giving the department time to evaluate the technology.

“We’re always looking at ways to advance and use innovation to advance and modernize policing. I think it is just a natural step for us.”

Police will no longer have to dispatch officers to the location to collect evidence, which is sure to free up some time and help prioritize work in the region, she added.

The new system also allows for physical distancing to be carried out by officers.

“Instead of our officers going to collect evidence from an individual associate, they can do so digitally without going and having that physical interaction,” said Greeno, adding police will still be attending scenes as required.

“This is for if someone has a report to make, and they have evidence on their phone they want to send in.” 

The files are uploaded to a secure cloud-based management system. Individuals are provided a safe and secure link through text or email; once the connection is opened, they can upload their evidence.

Vishal Dhir, managing director of Axon Public Safety Canada, welcomed the partnership.

“We are thrilled to know that our technology can help play a part in keeping WRPS officers, as well as community members, safe by allowing digital evidence to be shared electronically and minimize any unnecessary physical contact during this current crisis.”

Poice chief Bryan Larkin conveyed a similar message in a statement. “During times like these, when it is essential to practice physical distance, services like these are vital to the health and safety of our community and of our members.”

Axon was initially known as TASER International before rebranding in 2017. The company began in 1993 in search of an alternative to firearms in policing. The shooting of two high school football teammates that were shot in killed during a road rage incident was the impetus for the venture.

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