Taming the RMS monster

      Let's face it. Records management is hardly a riveting activity for most law enforcement agencies. What if you could retrieve, update, store and share your records with automated software? What if your dispatcher could give more information to...

  • For Justice Assistance Grant (JAG), which fund technology improvement programs, visit www.ojp.usdoj.gov/BJA/grant/jag.html.
  • For money to unify Web site-linking grant applicants and the U.S. agencies that manage grant funds, see www.grants.gov.
  • The COPS Office provides grants and resources for community policing at www.cops.usdoj.gov.
  • Funds offered from the Bureau of Justice Assistance's Local Law Enforcement can be used to buy equipment, technology, and other items directly related to law enforcement. Visit www.ojp.usdoj.gov/BJA.

   In addition to these funding sources, be sure to contact your state's Public Safety Department to see if they offer grant funding for new technology investments.

   Bob Galvin specializes in law enforcement and public safety writing. He can be reached at rsgpr@msn.com.

How to choose your RMS program

   When searching for the records management and CAD software that will meet your department's needs, there are many facets to consider. Here are a few guidelines to follow:

  • Determine exactly what functions you need to have in a records management system (RMS) — categories of reports, degree of customization (if any), individual modules, complex searches, vehicle and person alert, investigations, field interviews, incident/crime reports and warrants, among many other functions.
  • You might contact neighboring police departments to see what kind of RMS program they are using, especially how they are able to make CAD and RMS interface with each other.
  • Research the vendor you wish to select regarding financial stability, number of years in business, how many systems have been installed, and the depth of the vendor's experience in law enforcement records management.
  • Inquire about the level of technical support you can expect with your vendor's RMS. Will there be a designated technical support expert, and one who will become familiar with your particular RMS/CAD application? Is support offered 24/7? And must you pay extra cost for a service and support contract?
  • Look at price and what you get for it. Remember, just because some RMS software programs appear far less expensive than some of the more complex software, they still may meet all of your needs just fine.
  • Make sure your desired RMS program will be compatible with existing records software on your computers and records management programs at other agencies with which information sharing is critical.
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