Targeting Records Management Challenges for Law Enforcement:
Police officers, sheriffs, corrections officers and other law enforcement agencies operate a very unique type of organization with workflows that are apart from other categories of administrative functions. Why is that? With every crime committed, clear records need to be created to ensure accurate documentation for effective, viable prosecution and, if needed, for future investigations. In addition, law enforcement agencies are often the custodians of many types of registration records that are maintained.
Spotlight on Firearms Registrations
An effective firearms registration system is vital to tracking what guns are legally on the street as well as the provenance of recovered stolen guns. For many years, firearms bureaus around the country kept hardcopy registration forms for firearms. Over time, these records archives become unwieldy and prone to disorganization, making it potentially impossible to find a vital gun record in a timely manner in the midst of a criminal investigation for example. Additionally, the paper records were prone to environmental hazards like water damage and the risk of fire, not to mention theft or destruction. Without an automatic backup, the risks in using such legacy document management practices are too great given what’s at stake.
Massachusetts recently learned the hard way that improperly processed state lab tests resulted in the release of hundreds of previously indicted criminals. So too can records like gun registrations make or break a case potentially letting a dangerous criminal go back on the street.
To tackle these paper-related challenges and liabilities, local and state law enforcement organizations are turning to Image Data, a document and data management company, to convert card indexes and filing systems to an electronic format that is accessible by a range of users.
This type of project unique to law enforcement involves scanning and indexing hundreds of thousands of records. By creating a tailored services solution that leverages image, COLD and ICR-based data streams, along with an intuitive, easy to use web experience, users can search and retrieve records quickly and easily.
This type of process seems daunting and unachievable for many agencies. Image Data takes the worry out of the process and delivers results by using a high quality conversion process coupled with a highly-trained secure staff to handle sensitive records like gun registrations. Not merely an on-screen version of microform, Image Data actually puts the old forms to work. How? The team captures images of the actual forms and then extracts data from them so that each image has a corresponding electronic record with all vital information. Now, all that data that previously required manual searching is almost as easy to retrieve as a Google search.
Forward Looking Access
With a fully converted archive of records and a system that makes it easy to create and maintain new records, a law enforcement agency can dramatically expand the ease of access to records. Here are some examples of what an Image Data-based document management solution can enable:
- Officers on a call can look up records by address to determine if any guns are associated with the home.
- In the judicial system, the possession of a gun can be quickly researched and verified for consideration in cases like restraining order requests, probation violations, or other court actions.
- With stolen guns where a serial number may have been partially removed, search capabilities are robust enough to “work with what you have” to find possible matches.
- Using the data in the system, “big data” analytics can be performed with variables such as gun manufacturer, model and caliber, to identify trends and demographics that could shed light on organized or gang criminal activity.
- Inquiries from ancillary parties like the media or academic research organizations can be managed quickly and without impacting overall productivity.
- Records for guns returned from increasingly popular gun buyback programs can be quickly updated as “off the street.”
Since the system is accessible online, some agencies are taking the next step and implementing search tools on mobile platforms. As a result, no matter where a law enforcement agent is, the answer to a gun record question is only a few swipes away on a smartphone or tablet. Records are also available with redundant access and backups, ensuring that the data is always there 24/7, anytime/anywhere.
Of course, firearms records are only one example of the commonly used records systems that law enforcement currently use. The scope of solutions that Image Data supports is comprehensive and scalable, ensuring today’s decisions and investments are poised to grow with an agency’s future.
To learn more about Image Data’s solutions for law enforcement, contact us today.