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Business Technology

Capturing efficiencies and criminals

ECM technology gives city police departments an important leg up when it comes to doing more with less; an advantage campus law enforcement agencies should investigate
University Business, July 2013

Like many other agencies, city police departments are contending with shortages of time, money, and personnel. However, although maintaining operational efficiencies is important for any business entity, it’s especially critical for law enforcement. After all, quite often, the lives of their citizens (and of their officers) depend upon the ability to get the job done right.

This balancing act is a challenge university and college police departments can relate to. Consequently, campus agencies may find it worthwhile to explore Enterprise Content Management (ECM), as the University of Central Florida (UCF) Police Department has done. Carla Markx, coordinator, statistical research, records/property & evidence manager for the department, says they’ve found Laserfiche ECM “a very important records management tool for our department.”

ECM is a solution some city police departments have also implemented, one that has helped them optimize their resources. Consider:

Laserfiche ECM allows officers from the Hamilton Police Service (HPS) in Ontario, Canada, to access reports directly from their patrol vehicles. For example, when responding to calls about an emotionally disturbed person, rather than having to go to the station to look up past reports or place a phone call and wait for a records clerk to find the report and read it to them over the phone, they can quickly obtain this information by just inputting a name, incident number, or other keyword, keeping the officer on the street and on top of the situation. The ability to access records directly enabled the agency to downsize the Records Business Centre by four civilians, saving $200,000 annually.

ECM has also given HPS officers the ability to glean more information from reports than they could in the past, thanks to Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and Laserfiche’s fuzzy search capabilities. “If an officer wants to know more about a rash of breaking and enterings where all he knows is a red pick-up that has a unique decal on the side door was involved, he can use Laserfiche search to look up other reports,” explains Gary Holden, HPS records supervisor.

The Long Beach (Calif.) PD manages arrest records, crime reports, tickets, and restraining orders through ECM. Also contained within this Laserfiche solution are time cards, forms, policies and procedures, and more.

Field officers can retrieve many of these documents from their patrol vehicles. Of particular use are gang injunction-related documents. To arrest someone for violating an injunction, an officer must confirm the gang member has been served a copy of all related court documents. Before Laserfiche, this required officers to call around the department for verification. Now, they can instantly access the information and images needed to make an arrest.

In the past, Elk River (Minn.) police officers responding to calls didn’t know, for example, if the suspect had a history of violence, or was armed. Additionally, valuable time—sometimes up to three days—was spent back at headquarters looking up documentation/records, keeping officers from their patrol duties. Missing paperwork could also hinder prosecution.

Now, documents are scanned into the department’s browser-based RSM system, enabling officers to access photos, maps, reports, and names from their squad cars. The   ability to cross-reference with other resources before disturbing crime scenes has led to faster crime solving. The department has also achieved significant procedural and organizational improvements.

ECM has helped these departments and others gain efficiencies, free up resources and keep their officers better informed and safer. This technology gives campus police agencies the opportunity to capture the same advantages.