While trying to see things from both sides as part of the community and as the head of a department, we need to realize that just Jumping in and throwing a bunch of money is not that simple for one, and for two, buying a bunch of new firearms or vehicles right off the bat Is not going to make high quality, efficient changes. This leads us to the paper paradigm. The paper paradigm Is Implementing more efficiency-driven, electronic processes (2).
In other words, updating computer based applications and electronics. Implementing information to a piece of paper is going to have a significant increase on the inefficiencies in police organizations. This doesn’t sound that important to the regular Joe, but I think that the newest technologies could induce a huge impact on efficient improvements of law enforcement agencies all over the nation by becoming more efficient with their tasks and services.
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While the benefits of moving toward a paperless environment are certainly numerous and generally understood within the public safety community, the complexities In attaining its full potential may be less obvious (2). We use the term paperless when referring to the transformation of capturing, and storing data with the historical paper and pen model, to a computer based model. The act of writing of information onto a piece of paper, then transferring it to a computer device, was the first form of actual data entry(l).
Data entry clerks were then re-entering information into the computer system that had already been entered into the filing system by the law enforcement officer. Papers and files in the Records storage began to pile up while costing agencies more than we would ever imagine due to excess paper, lack of available personnel, and last but not least, efficiency of time(l). The new concept of an inefficient accumulation of all files and folders was certainly an unfortunate and unintended consequence of the first wave of the electronic revolution in law enforcement(2).
However, this is not to say that the introduction of computer based technology was an absolute bad thing because It wasn’t at the time, this argument Is simply stating that the “paper to computer data” recess simply needs to utilize new technological advances, With the benefits as well as the inefficiencies of this process exposed, the industry concept of a paperless system originated(2). If the original officer of a report were to have a way of directly entering his information into the computer system, then several time consuming and costly steps could be eliminated.
Do not look at this argument the wrong way, because we have made huge advances in technology, rather it is the fact that low budgets (especially in today’s economy) in agencies have and continue to prevent them from keeping up with the newest technologies. This process was, and continues to be implemented in a variety of formats ranging from direct entry by the an officer, to recorded dictation, to the use of word processor templates and even intelligent/optical character recognition technology(3).
Modern front end desktop applications were also created to provide user friendly and intuitive interfaces, and wireless field reporting solutions extended this functionality out to the vehicle(2). But regardless of the method employed, the ability to eliminate duplication in the “paper to computer” data entry process was a significant advancement. Basically the next advancement to eliminating time consuming data reporting process is essential for efficiencies in the field, in the office, in the patrol cars, and even the home life of officers.
As law enforcement agencies have continued to evolve into an increasingly complex data collection, processing, and archiving center, the value and scope of information has also expanded from an almost exclusively prosecutorial purpose, into a comprehensive investigation, pattern analysis, decision support, and liability modification tool (2). All of these functions, which were virtually non-existent in the paper model, are now the foundation for improvement of modern law enforcement.
However, there are still some crucial elements of the paper paradigm that still exist, such as officers still having to take the time they have at home with their families and transfer daily information from paper to computer. Agency processes and procedures which were established long before the computer are still common throughout the majority of law enforcement agencies. There are still instances where paper has been significantly reduced, but still have systems which were developed during the transitional period to advanced technology.
These systems still maintain much of the workflow, duplication, and distribution of inefficiencies introduced by their paper-based predecessors(2). The idea of passing or sending information around an agency has been literally translated into the physical duplication and transmission of data between systems, and in many cases even duplicating data within those systems. Thus, not only resulting in information duplication, but down the line it becomes time consuming eventually effecting the efficiency of officers, administrators, organizers, and end the end the community.
These processes not only continue the former inefficiencies, but can actually decrease the accuracy and reliability of the information that they were created to enhance(3). The example of the inefficient transferring of data and information can be eliminated by updating agencies computer-based technology. Updating agencies’ operations and their necessary equipment sounds like an easy task, but in all actuality it is not. This requires a sufficient budget in order to do so.
Prior to the hit on the economy, agencies were already struggling to Just maintain order within the agency, it is progressing getting worse. It is sad to see that a much needed structure such as law We will define data as a permanent electronic representation of an entity, or the context of an entity interaction with law enforcement. These representations are made up of a single record of any unique entity or unique contact instance(2). Information on the other hand, would be any means by which the data was accessed, displayed, disseminated and/or combined in a meaningful manner for a particular purpose.
This allows us to separate the paper system previously described where the data and information were basically the same thing, from the paper paradigm where hey no longer need to be(2). For example, if officers were to input the person, vehicle, and/or location (entity) data into their field reports and then submit those reports into a database without any checks to see if the submitted entity data already existed, the result would be extensive duplication any time an entity was contacted more than once. This would be a waste of time for officers.
In other words, if officers are taking the time to input information that has already been processed, then they are unknowingly wasting their time while they could be tending to other cases that might be in need of more attention. The field reporting process would be significantly more efficient if there was a data base that automatically filed and checked for duplications, rather than going from paper to computer every time, The agency would meet their goal of going paperless. But the paper paradigm would still be in effect and causing problems with duplication.
Another example of the paper paradigm creeping into a paperless environment is highlighted through the supervisory approval processes in many systems. In most cases, reports are gathered, compiled and sent to specific groups or individuals throughout the agency for review at specific levels of administration based upon the agencies organized operational procedures. The reviewers then approve or reject the reports and potentially submit comments back to the original author for consideration and resubmission.
Although most of these processes do deal with logical information rather than copied and duplicated source data, the actual process is a smaller example showing the physical movement of paper which is highly inefficient and unnecessary(l). It is an expensive, time consuming process that decreases the availability of time, money, and personnel. In addition to the query, formatting, delivery, and displayed resources required to create this process, the supervisory and administrative staff, are more than likely presented with significantly more information than is required to meet their objective(2).
In the paper system, each field had to be reviewed for consistency, completeness and content. The only checks and balances available were in the eye of the reviewer so to speak. Now that computers have the capability to apply complex logic to ensure that required fields are completed and their values are consistent with defined ramset’s prior to submission, supervisors should never see incomplete or inconsistent reports. Why then do they still need to review the full report? Why do they need their own copy? In most cases, it is Just the content of a few select fields that would need to be reviewed.
This process could certainly be achieved without producing and sending documents around the network(2). Even though there has been advances in technology in the past decade, if agencies had a sufficient enough budget to be consistent with incorporating the newest advanced technology into the inefficiencies, such as physically reviewing and delivering data. Prior to the hit on the economy, agencies were already struggling to Just maintain order within, it is progressively getting worse. It is sad to see that a much needed structure such as law enforcement, has to struggle to maintain and protect their communities.
The solution to escaping the recurrence of inefficiencies is to focus on these inefficiencies beyond Just moving legacy processes to an electronic medium(2). Administrators of operations need to be willing to carefully evaluate their operational procedures in order to identify and address these issues. With low suggest becoming more apparent for law enforcement agencies, a careful focus on these minute issues will not necessarily eliminate all inefficiencies, but it will give them leverage in order to advance their technology investments and achieve more efficient time, personnel, and budget management towards their full potential.
What a lot of people don’t realize is that if agencies had more support from the communities and government then they could at least partially eliminate some of these inefficiencies allowing officers to be more efficient in tending to the communities’ needs and requests. In other words, officers would be more readily available to assist other officers, have more officers disbursed throughout communities, and be able to focus on more important aspects overall in the law enforcement agencies.
This would help administrators in such a way by eliminating unnecessary stresses allowing them to address certain situations, and strategically and carefully maintain a well organized agency. All in all, it seems as though law enforcement agencies are not a high priority when it comes to government community support. However, when there are troubles around the nation, law enforcement and public safety are desperately needed.
As a starting point for change, our communities and government need to understand that society could not function without law enforcement and public safety, therefore we need to be more supportive of local agencies. If there is more support and a more stable foundation within agencies then they will be able to enhance their technology, resulting in more efficient and quality services for all. This is Just a small example in regards to upgrading computer-based technology, moving from manually entering data by pen and paper to using more computer friendly operations.