Can tracking officers’ data lead to better policing? This sergeant turned software developer thinks it can

Program developed by retired sergeant

When former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murdering George Floyd after he was recorded kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nine minutes, it was the first time he was seriously punished for his misconduct as a police officer, according to reports.

Prior to his arrest, 18 other complaints had been filed against Chauvin with the police department’s internal affairs office, according to CNN. All of the complaint cases were closed except two, in which Chauvin was given a letter of reprimand.

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Bryan Selzer, a retired Jacksonville Sheriff’s sergeant, believes that tracking an officer’s actions and complaints is the answer to better policing.

“You might be able to prevent something because of the history the officer has,” Selzer said. ”Those are all little indicators there might be something going on with the officer. But if you’re not aware of that, or if there is no early warning system in place, then it’s very difficult to identify.”

Selzer created software that makes supervisors aware of exactly what their officers are doing, displaying the data with strong visuals.

Charts categorize types of complaints received and quickly reveal the most common complaint, whether it’s response time, excessive force or anything else.

Other charts break down traffic stops by race, which could either dispute or verify complaints of biased policing.

Screenshots of the software, called "Law Enforcement Field Training Applications" (LEFTA) and "Shield Suite." (WKMG 2021)

“Is it a training issue? Do we need to change our policies?” Selzer said. “But again, if I don’t have something that shows that, and our system does, then how do I know that?”

Selzer said supervisors sometimes struggle to get the most accurate picture of their officers because the data is buried in files, often in different departments.

It’s not that law enforcement agencies don’t collect the data, they do, but Selzer gives officers an app to input the data into his software which turns it into understandable and actionable information.

“If you don’t have the data then it’s really just guesswork,” Selzer said.

Selzer said the software, called “Law Enforcement Field Training Applications” (LEFTA) and “Shield Suite” is now being used by more than 400 agencies in 43 states in the large cities like Houston and Las Vegas and 11 departments in Central Florida:

Clermont police department

Daytona Beach police department

Deland police department

Edgewater police department

Melbourne police department

Mount Dora police department

Orlando police department

Oviedo police department

West Melbourne police department

Winter Garden police department

The Daytona Beach Police Department said it uses the software within the training unit “for tracking officers and our Office of Professional Standards (what we call internal affairs) uses it for complaint and use of force documentation.”

Mount Dora’s police chief said he utilizes the software for new officer field training and he is “happy with it.”

The Melbourne Police Department said the software assists in tracking training records and field training records of newly hired police officers and recently expanded usage of the program to include the “vehicle pursuit module and the force reporting module.”

Over the past year, Selzer has added training tracking to the software so supervisors can tell if officers have completed training such as bias or de-escalation or crisis intervention.

One of the most useful components of the software is the alerts it sends out, according to Selzer.

A supervisor can customize the program to send an alert if the training wasn’t done on time or every time use-of-force incidents happen.

And the alerts can be tailored to the type of officer, like a SWAT officer, which naturally will have more use of force than a school resource officer.

About the Author:

Erik von Ancken anchors and reports for WKMG-TV News 6 (CBS) in Orlando and is a two-time Emmy award-winning journalist in the prestigious and coveted "On-Camera Talent" categories for both anchoring and reporting. Erik joined the News 6 News Team in 2003 days after the tragic loss of space shuttle Columbia.