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Agency boosts efficiency, accuracy with reporting system, real-time information

 

BlueStreak’s Software as a Service (SaaS) architecture ensures that Maywood police officers have an easy-to-use, state-of-the-art reporting technology at an affordable price with the only IT requirement being an Internet connection.

Maywood, a western suburb of Chicago, and the chief are now ready to deploy more officers to help alle- viate stress on her department. Maywood is also among the most active police forces in Illinois and the chief a leader within the law enforcement community.

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According to Chief Elvia Williams of the Maywood Police Department, “I was looking for a company that was willing to work with our department—reporting system, real-time information one that would listen and be accommodating to our needs.” She chose BlueStreak Connect because of its flexible software as a service solution that did not require large upfront costs. Typical automated field reporting systems (AFRS) and records management systems (RMS) can cost hundreds of thousands to buy, integrate to existing technology, and deploy to officers.

“Chief Williams is an excellent example of a proactive chief taking advantage of software as a service (SaaS) solutions to alleviate Maywood’s dependence on paper-based solutions,” said Steve Rodgers, CEO of BlueStreak Connect. “With BlueStreak Connect, the chief and her senior staff have real-time (now) access to the information that matters most to her and her investigators, all at affordable prices. The important information that they need is available when they need it and is no longer buried in paperwork being read by her investigators and detectives.”

The Problem
Before contacting BlueStreak, the Maywood Police Department was using a paper-based, computer automated dispatch (CAD) system. The way the system previously worked, for each incident, police would file a paper report, which was then given a report number and loaded into a records management system (RMS) by means of the CAD. After reports were approved, two clerks manually entered the details of each report into the system so that records could be pulled up electronically. Once reports had been entered into the system, they were assigned to a detective who managed any supplemental forms.

However, the paper-based reports and RMS system often failed the department. For example, in one assault incident described by Williams:

“In one instance, a woman was jumped and beaten by two other women at an intersection downtown. A call came into dispatch, and we sent a patrol car to investigate. However, when the officer on duty arrived at the scene, none of the parties involved could be found. The two assailants had fled the scene, and the victim had walked a few blocks away.

The police officer was able to glean from bystanders that the two assailants had assaulted the woman, taken her phone and fled. The officer was given a description of the assailants and an address where they might be.

Meanwhile, after the first officer left to pursue the suspects, a second officer arrived at the scene. This officer was able to locate the victim, who had returned. She gave the officers a different address for the perpetrators than the one the bystanders had given the first officer.

When both officers filed reports for the incident, they unknowingly reported contradictory information so that when investigators were assigned to the case, they had to track the officers down to find out exactly what had happened. Furthermore, one officer had reported the incident as a burglary while the other had reported it as a theft, which requires a completely different set of forms and procedures.”

In addition to miscommunications between officers, Williams was concerned about the integrity of information being entered into the CAD. “The states attorney needs to see relevant information in these reports,” she said. “If bad information is entered into the system, what comes out on the other end won’t help us.”

“Oftentimes, officers bury important information in their narratives or they enter information that they think is important but leave out little facts that are often times crucial to solving a case,” Williams said. “Furthermore, if the officer[s are] at the end of a shift, sometimes they cannot complete the report until the next time they are on duty, which could be days.”

The Solution
After reaching out to several vendors to help solve her troubles, Williams came across BlueStreak Connect. “I called all over the place looking for IT vendors that offered a solution that would meet our individualized needs,” she said. One company offered to sell us a system and then wanted an extra $1,000 to show us how to use it!” she exclaimed. “I was just about ready to give up when I received a call from a BlueStreak sales representative.

To address the issues the Maywood Police Department was facing, BlueStreak recommended the Connect Interviewer service as a solution. Connect Interviewer is a questionnaire-based tool that offers an easy-to-use, easy-to-customize data-collection system that streamlines the reporting process for law enforcement personnel. The service pre-populates reoccurring fields such as officer name and ID number, which saves time and increases data accuracy, helping to ensure that all required information is entered into reports in a standardized manner.

Information that is collected is used to intelligently complete all forms that may exist. Dynamic questionnaires ensure that all data fields are relevant to the event. Furthermore, Connect Interviewer offers a powerful routing engine that transfers data and forms to appropriate individuals in real time, ensuring that all officers are able to access information as soon as it is entered into the system.

“What I was looking for was a solution that would integrate smoothly with our existing CAD. Furthermore, our department already had a server that housed all of our current reports, and we didn’t want any additional hardware or associated training, installation or maintenance fees. Lastly, our department is on call, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, so we needed a service that was readily available and always secure. After expressing my concerns to BlueStreak, I realized that they had just the right solution.”

According to Williams, “Connect Interviewer Suite is the perfect solution for our department. Now officers are able to view reports prior to approval so that two officers working on the same case, independently of each other, are able to view a report before it is completed, ensuring that they are not acting on contradictory information.

“Furthermore, BlueStreak’s customer service team is available around the clock, which is important because we never stop working,” Williams said. Connect Interviewer’s customizable fields ensure that all necessary information is entered into the system before an officer can submit a report, and the solution works seamlessly with our existing CAD system.”

With Connect Interviewer the Maywood Police Department can quickly and easily automate the reporting process while maintaining existing workflow. Like all BlueStreak Connect services, Connect Interviewer is offered over the Web as a service (software as a service), guaranteeing an affordable price and minimizing learning curves and eliminating installation and maintenance fees all together.

Williams said, “Best yet, BlueStreak’s monthly pay-per-user plan makes it so that we have the most up-to-date technology without having to purchase any hardware. We have even saved $10,000 that we would have otherwise spent on paperwork with our old system.”

Published in Public Safety IT, Jul/Aug 2008

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