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Law Enforcement Consortiums: The New Face of Records Management

August 15, 2018  |  by Andi Mucklow

Data-driven technology has made enormous strides over the past decade, especially in the public safety sector. As agencies continue to adopt emerging technology, communities are becoming safer through processes that involve integrating devices with emergency response systems to detect active shooters, forecasting and preventing crimes through smarter patrolling, and utilizing advanced analytics to improve overall public safety.

But with budget cuts and diminishing resources, many agencies are unable to afford such technologies. As a result, improving public safety efforts becomes cost prohibitive.

Enter: shared records management systems (RMS). Consolidating records through a shared infrastructure between agencies has become an increasingly popular way to garner a more complete history of individuals. Many city and county law enforcement agencies have begun developing consortiums for sharing these systems, and some states have even adopted a statewide shared RMS.

The state of Utah, for example, developed the Statewide Information & Analysis Center to join federal, state, local, tribal, public, and private agencies to collect and exchange all-crimes information throughout the state. It has resulted in greater data-sharing, detailed analytics, and informed response efforts throughout public safety agencies across the state while providing investigative case support and stronger risk and threat assessment.

So, what can agencies gain from a shared RMS? By working together, RMS consortiums can help agencies lower costs, improve data and insights, and provide better protection for their community and officers.

Lower costs, better insights

It has become clear through the rise of technology that data and insights lead to better-informed public safety efforts and decisions. But many agencies lag behind because of an inability to afford such technology.

Though the initial cost of implementing a modern RMS can seem daunting to many, working with other city, county, or state-wide agencies to enable a joint system can ultimately save money and provide collective insights to public safety organizations.

In addition to lowering costs, collective RMS can increase efficiency through streamlined management and seamlessly shared data. Armed with an individual’s comprehensive involvement history, officers can make smarter, data-driven decisions to affordably improve operations and overall safety.

The idea of joining together systems is also an opportunity to reevaluate processes, policies, and procedures. Often systems have flexibility in configuration, allowing agencies to enjoy the benefits of one system while still being able to provision the system for their needs. The result is better visibility to refine and optimize response processes, as well as more defined insights into team needs.

But the benefits of a shared RMS don’t end there. Linn County Sheriff’s Office in Albany, Oregon has implemented a shared system throughout multiple counties. Micah Smith, Lieutenant of Support Services Division at Linn County Sheriff’s Office, discusses what he has experienced through the implementation of this system.

“I think that we have a deeper partnership across disciplines than before. And that's really important. Since we're an all-in-one solution, we have greater visibility to not only what we're doing across the agency, across the jurisdiction, but also across disciplines,” Smith explained.

“We're more in tune with the needs of both police and fire. And that's an important thing because we're all first responders. And many, many times, we're going to the same locations to render aid to citizens who have called for help.”

Take time to transition

As fast-moving as the technology and data industries are, transitioning from legacy RMS to modern systems with data-sharing capabilities can be a slow and strenuous process. It will behoove you, your employees, and your bottom line to make this transition over a period of time.

A key budget challenge involves the time and capital it takes to train your employees on how to properly use sharing systems, especially if all of the information is available at once. By spreading out the accumulation of these systems over a period of time, you can manage these costs to fit your budget and timeline.

Training employees on these systems can also hit your budget. With large amounts of new information at your fingertips, it can be an overwhelming process to learn how best to utilize such information. If you gradually implement these systems, it’s easier and quicker to train your employees as they become accustomed to each additional system, thus diminishing the learning curve.

Lastly, remember that with new technology also comes the need for open communication with your staff. Considering a plan around managing and communicating the change to the ranks is important in the implementation phase. Simple tasks of documenting new features and functionality as well as all the benefits of sharing data with your neighbors are critical to obtaining high software adoption rates.

Better together

Developing law enforcement consortiums to streamline and share data through a records management system can offer significant insight and unprecedented value to public safety agencies.

It can ultimately reduce the cost of implementing newer technology systems while connecting agencies and disciplines through shared, comprehensive data.

Instrumental change in the public safety sector won’t happen overnight, but with the proper planning and patience, data-sharing records management systems can be a powerful force in the changing landscape of public safety.

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