For law enforcement agencies serving medium to large-size populations, there are other software programs to consider. One is the Aegis Public Safety software suite from New World Systems of Troy, Mich. At the core is a single, integrated database which is the foundation for the RMS. The company's suite of public safety software includes CAD, mobile computing and field-based reporting modules.
"All of our modules use the same database," explains Mark Prevost, New World Systems' vice president of marketing. The integrated applications and single database ensure all crime and incident information is linked throughout the suite of software. This offers faster access to information to reduce response time and improves officer and citizen safety during emergencies.
"The biggest driver we are seeing from agencies is the desire to update [records management] technology for efficiency gains," Prevost says.
One of several big trends Prevost sees in this regard is increased focus on agency consolidation whereby, similar to New London PD's situation, multiple police departments are being dispatched out of one central 911 center. Through such consolidation, several agencies can spread the cost of new technology around, share critical crime data for homeland security, and improve efficiency.
Yet the biggest trend in records management is that police departments want more information from a variety of sources, and they want an easy way to find it. "They need to know how to find information from the raw data they have; to be able to draw conclusions so they can make informed decisions," says Steve Marz, vice-president for Intergraph Public Safety of Huntsville, Ala. Intergraph works with agencies employing up to or more than 1,000 officers and serving large populations ranging between 100,000 and 500,000.
Intergraph's offerings include standalone software modules for CAD and RMS. "Our CAD can integrate with other records systems and our records system can integrate with other CAD systems," explains Marz. The firm also offers a package that integrates Intergraph's CAD and RMS modules.
The Mesa (Ariz.) PD, boasting 850 sworn officers who serve a population of 464,000 abandoned its enterprise records management system in favor of Intergraph's packages. "Part of this switch over is for capturing demographics of the report, and part of it is for data analysis such as where crimes occur and for patrol deployment strategies," explained Shirl Butler, Mesa PD's technology services division administrator.
Among the most significant benefits of today's paperless records management/CAD integrated systems are huge time savings and reduced duplication of effort and higher accuracy with instant in-field incident reporting.
Says Marz: "If there's an incident, this software can populate as much into the records side as possible from the CAD system. Officers don't have to do it twice, this increases accuracy."
What's more, when officers are filling out multiple reports, most RMS software programs will pull the same information from a master records database and place it in different records being populated, so there is no redundant data entry.
Police departments that serve a vast population from 100 to 1,000 or more officers tend to require extensive customization for their RMS/CAD software systems. This demand stems from police agencies' requirement to have new software integrate with existing public safety records systems as the new software is installed. Examples include ability to customize and pre-define RMS data entry screens or the order and flow of data entry forms.
Officer safety is another important factor to consider for your chosen records software, according to Ian Archbell, vice president of marketing and product management for Pleasanton, Calif.-based Tiburon Inc. Tiburon makes LawRECORDS, a records management software program that integrates with the firm's CAD, mobile data, field reporting and mapping modules as well as other provider systems.
Showing you the money
Choosing the right RMS software, and then merging it with your agency's CAD system will be driven largely by cost. Therefore, don't overlook state and federal funding sources for grant opportunities.
Here are a few funding options to consider: