Call for Back-up! 4 Reasons Why Law Enforcement Needs Document Management
Difficult budget times bring changes across government agencies and often opportunities arise from the disruptions caused by changing staffs and smaller budgets. One area that may not fare as well is law enforcement, because of the direct connection between the number of officers on the street and the prevention of crime. Since typical public safety expenses start with officers as the highest cost, budget crises often devastate prevention efforts.
In recent years, government has coped by increasing the use of technology, particularly with enterprise content management (ECM) solutions, to both cut costs and recapture staff time to help redistribute workloads after budget woes force layoffs and reductions. The use of technology by public safety agencies, especially with officers in the field, has advanced at a slower rate than many other governmental agencies as they struggle with competing budget pressures and the difficulties in finding technology that can support them in their often dangerous field work.
In the decade since 9/11, officers commonly access critical data directly from their laptop-equipped squad car. Now that this hardware is widely available, law enforcement agencies use technology to access critical data before making an arrest and reviewing speeding incident reports to ensure meeting the arraignment deadlines.
How can law enforcement use technology to save time and money?
- Eliminate paper and speed processing
The rising cost of law enforcement is, in part, linked to the slow pace caused by manual, paper-driven tasks. Incident reports produce a huge volume of hardcopies and accounts for 95% of the paper critical to investigations. Then soft-costs associated with filing and storage of records, copying, searching and retrieving documents and the circulation of drafts also begin adding up. A document management system eliminates manual tasks, reduces the cost of paper and even facilitates the circulation of drafts.
- Connect your RMS to ECM for immediate access to information
Some agencies use records management systems (RMS) to create documents like incident reports, but then struggle to efficiently retrieve supporting files like photos, video, audio, diagrams and other data key to investigations and the decision to prosecute. Searching filing cabinets and electronic databases for specific information eats up precious time. Connect ECM to your RMS so information is stored electronically in a single location. Finding critical information now happens in seconds, with a single click.
- Automate manual processes to reclaim staff time
Eliminating paper is just the first step in saving time and money. An electronic, paperless department allows for automated processes like records requests, new employee forms processing, invoice approval and incident report reviews. By automating manual processes, computers perform the time-consuming, repetitive tasks like routing documents, tracking deadlines, and allowing simultaneous access, freeing staff to perform more value-added tasks like dealing with exceptions.
- Connect across the justice spectrum
ECM provides a central repository for multiple people to access documents regardless of office, department – anywhere across the justice spectrum. Now it’s easy to share information and gain efficiency from a common set of documents that originates during investigation and is relied upon by prosecution, defense and the courts. By offering prosecutors access to centrally stored information, courier charges, gas and transportation costs, even officer time spent transporting files are reduced and sometimes eliminated.
There is no doubt that declining budgets put severe pressure on public safety agencies as they try to keep their officers on the street. ECM is an important solution for an agency that runs on paper and suffers from manual tasks and budget pressures caused by paper. It offers back-up for law enforcement to meet reduced budgets and keep resources focused on the officers that prevent and respond to the safety needs of their communities.