With its motto, “One Team, One Mission,” it’s clear that unity is important to the Long Beach Police Department (LBPD). However, without consistent access to the PD’s law enforcement records and administrative files, officers and employees had a difficult time staying on the same page.
In most industries, being unable to access the right information can be costly and inefficient. But in law enforcement, it can be inconvenient—even deadly.
“Officers respond to calls uninformed of safety precautions,” says Elk River, MN Police Chief Jeffrey Beahen bluntly. “They’re on the scene without knowing if the suspect has any violent history, if they own any guns – nothing.” Once back at the station, he says, the real work began – only it wasn’t exactly police work.
“We have a fiduciary responsibility to get value from tax dollars,” says Captain Blakely of the Riverside, California Police Department. For the past decade, Riverside has increasingly turned to information management technology, emerging as a model of public efficiency, especially these days.
As Roz Vinson, Police Records and Information Manager puts it, “I’m short 10 bodies – that’s where we are right now. Where can I work smarter? If we only have to touch something once, that’s progress.” (more…)
Time was, when an officer from Ontario’s Hamilton Police Service (HPS) responded to investigate a call about an EDP (emotionally disturbed person), they’d have two choices to determine risk factors as they proceeded: either drive back to the station with the EDP to look up past reports – or place a call and wait for a Records Clerk to pull the report and read it to them over the phone. Either way, the officer would be off the street, sometimes for hours, waiting for the necessary information to act on.
These days, however, an officer responding to the same call can pull up reports right in their patrol car, accessing information vital to the safety of the EDP – and the public – using just a name, incident number or other simple keyword.
When Elk River, MN, officers got a call of an elderly man in adult diapers at a playground, sector cars arrived moments later heavily armed with what they needed most to bring the man in safely – information. They had his picture, they knew his name and family and that he was a potentially violent Alzheimer’s patient reported missing days ago.
The Eaton County, MI’s Prosecuting Attorney’s Office has long been recognized for its visionary use of Laserfiche. What began in 2003 as a means of archiving closed cases has evolved into a department-wide embrace of technology that has eliminated file cabinets, saved significant time and an exponential amount of money. Perhaps most sustainably, Laserfiche has improved the way attorneys work. Lawyers summon case information – police reports, photographs, even video and audio archives of 911 calls – right in the courtroom from a digital briefcase. Plus, minimal staff is required to stay ahead of the continuous inflow of paper generated.
Behind this success has been the foresight and follow-through of Laserfiche Luminary Dr. Robert J. Sobie, the county’s Information Systems Director. For almost 15 years, Sobie has patiently championed the efficiency of the paperless workplace, department by department, process by process, all the way to the Prosecuting Attorney’s office and beyond.
Two years ago, the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office in Florida was another local government agency with overflowing file cabinets and the inspiration (and budget) to do something about it. Laserfiche was at first intended to manage departmental records, but was soon adapted to catalogue domestic violence cases and help create SORT, the county’s public database of sexual predators. “Being able to scan in domestic violence case reports is important because these cases are very time-sensitive as far as victims support services go,” says Commander Doug Waller. “Time is definitely not on our side.”
The importance of time is especially crucial to homicide cases. “We only see about 10-12 homicides a year and we generally stay on top of them,” says Lieutenant Bruce Barnett. “But the longer a case stays open, the more the paperwork piles up.”