Anything that can make the job easier for a police force serving and protecting a capital city of 200,000 people is a good thing.
This year, the city of Little Rock implemented one of those good things (even before the passage of the city sales-tax initiatives).
In January, the Little Rock Police Department installed the Incident Report Direct Entry System, a Web-based application that allows officers to complete incident reports from any computer connected to the city network.
This in-car reporting system that makes incident reporting much more efficient has earned Little Rock recognition as a 2011 Arkansas Business City of Distinction for technology advancements.
Developed by the Little Rock Information Technology Department (LRIT), the system represents the city’s largest technological advancement in record keeping in more than 20 years.
“This new technology has provided the department and the community with increased efficiency and remarkable long-term value,” Mayor Mark Stodola said.
Under the new system, a report is completed (usually by an officer in his patrol car), submitted electronically to the reporting officer’s supervisor, and, once approved, immediately imported into the LRPD’s records-management system. From there, it’s available to the entire department within a few hours, and, upon request, the general public.
This in-car reporting system drastically reduces the amount of time it takes for LRPD to process reports. Before the Incident Report Direct Entry System was implemented, officers completed handwritten reports that upon supervisor approval were received into the department’s records section, copied for distribution and eventually entered into the records-management system by a data-entry clerk. This process took as long as three to five weeks, frustrating both officers and crime analysts. In fact, under the old system, the analysts in the LRPD’s patrol division maintained their own Excel spreadsheets in order to accomplish basic crime analysis.
Under the new system, what took weeks now takes hours.
The city’s IT personnel provided other system tweaks. Now, detective sergeants can select reports electronically routed to them for assignment to detectives. This makes it possible, even common, for LRPD detectives to conduct same-day investigative follow-up calls.
“This rapid response enables the detective to more efficiently gather information about the crime he is investigating and should help to increase the police department’s solvability rates,” Stodola said.
Other benefits of the new system include:
• In-car coding of calls frees up airtime for LRPD communications teams.
• Crime hotspots can be identified quicker.
• Affords officers the ability to use smartphones and handheld devices to take photos at the crime scene and check for warrants.
• Real-time information about a crime can be made available to the public online.
• Reports can’t be misplaced during transportation to the records division.
• Web-based forms are easier to read than handwritten forms.
Since updating the incident database, LRIT has developed automated crime-analysis tools available to all members of LRPD, and are expected to significantly improve the department’s ability to analyze crime and otherwise effectively deploy its resources.
“These cooperative efforts have astronomically improved the incident-reporting process at LRPD,” Stodola said.