Honors, Awards & Tributes
On Wednesday, March 21, the Redlands Police Department was recognized with the 2018 California Police Chiefs Association & Motorola Excellence in Technology Innovation Award for its groundbreaking use of GPS tracking technology to innovatively address crime in the community.
The award seeks to recognize agencies whose creative use of technology has significantly changed or set the agency apart from the standard application of technology in police services. To date, the department’s GPS tracker program has led to the immediate apprehension of nearly 300 (mostly career) criminals and has served as the example across the nation that numerous other law enforcement agencies are following.
Chief of Police Christopher R. Catren and Assistant Chief Travis Martinez accepted the award on behalf of the department at an awards luncheon at the California Police Chiefs Association annual training event in Long Beach.
“This recognition validates the Redlands Police Department’s commitment to working with technology, the community, and volunteers to enhance public safety,” said Chief Catren.
In 2011, the Redlands Police Department was experiencing a significant increase in the number of vehicle burglaries in the community. With a tradition of leveraging technology to help solve crime problems in the past, community policing officers at RPD began researching options to solve the vehicle burglary problem. The lingering 2007 national recession had led to a 22 percent reduction in the size of the police force so traditional methods, such as police stakeouts, were not a viable option.
After researching different technologies on the market, RPD opted for a highly effective yet affordable specialized GPS tracking device that financial institutions were using to protect their assets. Partnering with various community residents and businesses, the department began deploying items at locations identified as potential targets for theft. A small GPS device with the capability of deployment for up to 24 months without a recharge was discreetly hidden inside items likely to be targeted by thieves. When the item is moved it activates the GPS device and immediately sends an alert to dispatchers and officers’ smartphones, allowing police to track the device’s direction and speed of travel.
The department experienced immediate success and since the initial deployment, RPD has expanded the use of the technology to address every crime trend occurring in the community, resulting in nearly 300 arrests for crimes including armed robbery, vehicle burglary, bike theft, laptop theft, metal and wire theft, vending machine theft, tire theft, construction site theft, parcel theft and even the theft of memorial items left at gravesites at Hillside Memorial Park cemetery.
The devices were even used to apprehend suspects who had attached a credit card skimmer to a gasoline pump at a local convenience store. Recognizing the versatility of the device, the department expanded their use, creating the “While You’re Away Program.” Redlands’ residents can complete an online application and pick up a GPS equipped laptop at the Police Department which can be deployed at their house before they leave on vacation, essentially creating a 24/7 electronic surveillance of the residence that functions as an immediate silent alarm. Numerous residents have taken advantage of the program and have expressed how it gives them peace of mind while on vacation.
The GPS tracking program has been recognized and replicated by other police departments across the nation and in 2015 the Redlands Police Department was named the recipient of the RISE Award for Agency of the Year from TASER and PoliceOne for its innovative use of GPS technology and community collaboration to address crime trends in the community.
Learn more about the “While You’re Away Program”