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Seventy-five years ago, Hungarian brothers László and György Bíró revolutionized documentation with the invention of the ballpoint pen. At the time, its creation heralded a more accurate documentation tool. Closing in on a century later, people are still trading in older, manual instruments for sharper tools to improve documentation. Law enforcement professionals are no different. They need to transform from older, manual incident reporting processes to ones that are newer and more automated.

For law enforcement professionals, who rely heavily on reporting, inaccurate or delayed documentation won’t do. Yet, many departments still use manual methods to complete their incident reports.  Nearly 40 percent of police officers say they spend 3-4 hours each day on incident reports, according to a national survey of police departments across the country. Manual documentation presents several pitfalls.  

Officers cannot trade accuracy or immediacy of report quality

Police officers need to create incident reports speedily to meet prosecution deadlines and move criminal proceedings along. While doing so, they must capture the detail and accuracy of each civilian encounter. Inaccurate or incomplete reports can mean missed deadlines or stall criminal proceedings.

Officers also write their incident reports while out in the field, which keeps them heads-down in the patrol vehicle and can lead to distractions or limit situational awareness, both of which impact safety. Increased reporting demands also turn the officer's focus away from spending time within their communities, the original purpose for getting into law enforcement. Put all of this together, and the growing demands of paperwork in policing contribute to burnout.

It's not surprising that with all of these issues combined, more departments are beginning to seek more automated solutions to help alleviate documentation demands.  

Police departments need to evolve to modern reporting tools

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Automated police reporting solutions like Dragon Law Enforcement can empower officers to produce thorough reports with immediacy and accuracy.

Officers who respond to multiple incidents each day, no longer need to rely on memory-recall or decipher hand-written notes from hours before. They can dictate notes by voice, and in real-time, to capture a “narrative” of each incident, leading to better reporting. Speech recognition can also help speed report turnaround. Reports that traditionally take hours to complete are done in minutes, simply by speaking.

Officers can also conduct everyday tasks like license plate lookups or enter data into the CAD/RMS. Heads-up reporting also helps eliminate the poor ergonomics of having to shift and turn in the car seat to enter data into their laptops. The result: officers stay heads-up and more focused and safer on patrol. 

Everyone across the department benefits from accurate and automated documentation. Transcription costs are lower, officers save time, and criminal proceedings move along faster. Risk is also mitigated - from inaccurate or incomplete reports returned from district attorney's offices, to officer safety and burnout.

While we don’t anticipate pen – or paper – to disappear anytime soon, solutions like Dragon Law Enforcement, can, like the ballpoint pen did decades before, capture more detailed documentation. And when speed and accuracy matter, law enforcement will do well to turn to more accurate automated documentation solutions.