Using software to identify statutes

     When Officer Christopher Smith looks up a statute for a "less written" traffic violation, he reaches for the touchscreen of his laptop computer, makes a few taps and receives the applicable statute.      Smith and his fellow officers...

     When Officer Christopher Smith looks up a statute for a "less written" traffic violation, he reaches for the touchscreen of his laptop computer, makes a few taps and receives the applicable statute.

     Smith and his fellow officers in the Jupiter Police Department, in Jupiter, Florida, are among the first in the nation to use intuitive new software to zero in on traffic statutes. Last autumn, the Jupiter PD tested the criminal statute identification software from Ten-8 Software Solutions, a company based in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Light-bulb moment

     Officers have long wrestled with the challenge of quickly determining exactly which charge applies to a specific crime, says John Landry, a retired law enforcement lieutenant, uniformed police officer and detective, and founder of Ten-8 Software Solutions.

     "It's in the news all the time: people are charged with the wrong crime and charges are dropped," Landry says. "I've known for years that there has to be a better solution for police officers than wading through thick law books."

     Landry, who is pursuing a Ph.D. in education from Capella University, came up with the idea of the statute identification software during a critical thinking exercise he learned through Capella. "I thought, how can we take the guesswork and confusion out of this critical process?" Landry recalls. "Almost all police officers now have laptops in their cars or in the stations; why not use them to quickly pinpoint the exact charge for any situation?"

     Landry and a partner, who is an active-duty narcotics agent, formed Ten-8 Software Solutions to develop and launch the Criminal Statute Identification Program (CSIP) and the Traffic Statute Identification Program (TSIP).

     Along with other departments in the area, the Jupiter PD served as a testing site for the software. The department prides itself on spearheading excellence and looks for ways to innovate, says Lt. Frank Hess of the Jupiter PD. Items from phone books to maps are already available on the laptops of the department's 108 officers; adding the TSIP and CSIP software was a logical progression.

     Additional test agencies include other Florida police departments, such as Port Richey, Titusville, West Palm Beach and Davenport.

How it works

     The software is controlled by mouse or touchscreen — no typing is required. The officer clicks "yes" or "no" to a series of questions that become increasingly specific until the appropriate charge is identified. The software delivers the same information as the criminal and traffic law books. The crucial difference, says Landry, is that the software is designed to be user-friendly and accessible. The software also assists by prompting the officer to do an investigation relevant to the crime.

     The TSIP and CSIP versions feature similar interfaces and the same intuitive approach, so it's easy for officers to quickly use and benefit from both, says Landry.


     • Time savings

     Law enforcement professionals want to get the information they need — quickly and easily.

     Rookies and veteran officers are going to come across incidents they need to look up statutes for, says Smith. The software can save time compared to sifting through the statute books. "It's fast," says Hess, "[and] a real quick reference for officers."

     The software has a number of appropriate applications useful to a variety of officers. For example, an officer who's good on the street may not work regularly with all the statutes, says Lt. Mike McCabe of the Westfield (Massachusetts) Police Department. McCabe tested the CSIP and TSIP software during a recent trip to Florida. Another example would be a junior officer who pulls over a vehicle and may have to search for multiple offenses. The software can help both officers move forward dramatically faster than they could with the statute book, says McCabe.

     • Improved accuracy

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