New Natural Resources Police technology for better enforcement, efficiency

DNR’s Natural Resources Police group is a small, but efficient, law enforcement agency. With more than 3 million acres to patrol, they have to be.

To enhance their ability to oversee agency trust lands and natural areas, the agency has invested in a real-time reporting system that allows officers to complete their reports while remaining in the field (or forest, in this case). The benefit, is twofold.

Officer seated with computer in vehicle
DNR officers’ use of new technology allows them to spend more time in state forest and natural area landscapes. Photo / DNR staff

Because officers are able to complete their reports from their vehicles (as opposed to driving to an office) it means more time spent with eyes and ears in the forest, monitoring activities and able to lend assistance. Their presence in the landscape has a multiplier effect too, as it can help to reduce expensive vandalism and the kind of criminal activity that could require time-consuming investigations and court proceedings later on.

The system also allows officer to instantaneously look up past forest worker or visitor interactions. This makes the situation safer for officers and means that those who make a habit of detrimental behavior can be held accountable sooner, rather than later. (Fair warning… if you’ve previously received a warning our officers will know it. Next time they may not be able to be quite so generous.)

What makes the system, which they’ve been using since September, work, is that its cell service uses boosters and net-motion software to enhance signal strength and save data if a signal is temporarily lost. This is important when you’re monitoring some of Washington’s most remote areas.

Officers say that the new system is working well for them. Now that they’ve been using it for a few months they’ve been able to use its increased reporting capabilities to help track trends, which can guide proactive efforts when warranted.

Yet, one thing the system can’t do, is enable our officers to be everywhere all the time. For that, we need the time-tested help of visitors and volunteers. Report suspicious activity right away to 1-855-883-8368 (always call 911 first for emergencies). Even the latest technology can’t replace how important the eyes and ears of the public are in DNR’s efforts to serve and protect our lands and visitors.

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