Police chiefs gather in San Francisco to look at new tech tools

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Technology is becoming a bigger part of police work. On Monday, police chiefs and administrators from all over came together at the University of San Francisco to talk about it. ABC7 News took a look at what is big now and what is on the horizon.

In a room full of officers, some in uniform, sits one man who hung up his uniform decades ago.

"When I retired as police chief in 1996, I did not know what email was," former San Francisco Police Chief Tony Ribera said.

Now a professor at the University of San Francisco, Ribera is hosting a symposium to help bring the latest technology to a notoriously skeptical bunch.

"They were to some extent skeptical about the body cameras, but I think on the whole everybody looks forward to going to work with a body camera on every day," Atherton Sgt. Sherman Hall said.

Atherton police were early adopters of body cameras as video plays a vital role in more and more cases.

It can incriminate or vindicate.

"Somebody will say complain about my actions and I'm able to use the video to go show that I did everything perfectly," Hall said.

The latest cameras can play back right in the squad car.

"Review it in the field, show a supervisor, write a report, without ever having to go back to the office," Data 911 regional manager Michael Mattal said.

In the cop cars they don't have an ordinary computer. Beyond taking a beating, it uses other cameras to continuously scan the road for stolen cars.

"The cameras the software is all working in the background as they perform their jobs," Mattal said.

For all the new tech that's being made especially for cops, the next frontier might actually have a more familiar face. The most important tool on a police officer's belt is quickly becoming the smartphone.

San Mateo police can hear radios and view dispatch on their phones.

"A critical incident came up, I was able to get it on my smartphone and listen into the digital radio sitting there in Washington D.C. with my family. That would not have been possible even about three months ago," San Mateo Police Chief Susan Manheimer said.

However, Manheimer is more excited about using phones to solve crimes. She said officers can "look at a pill identifier to identify what kind of controlled substance it is, do biometrics to look at absolutely who the individual is, if they're giving you a false name."

There's an app for everything like finding all the social media posts from the time and place a crime occurred.

It's all impressive to Ribera. He said, "They have the district station right in their hand -- all the information they could possibly need."
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