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What agencies need from a future-proofed RMS

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Our Inside Axon blog series features articles written by executives on areas of their interest and expertise. This week's post was written by Sayce Falk, Axon's VP of Software Product Management. Check back next week for more experiences and insight from Axon leaders.

Police agencies today face a challenging dilemma — the variety and depth of the problems that they are presented with in modern society continue to increase even as their technology tools seem to fall farther and farther behind.

Those challenges tend to differ across the country —in some regions, officers become drug addiction counselors; in others, they are challenged by chronic homelessness; and in others, gang-related violent crime has been spiking. Though the particulars are different, in each case, front-line officers are being asked to go beyond simply documenting a call for service and trying to engage in more pro-active policing. (The U.S. military called this “getting left of the bomb” during the height of the Iraq war.)

In a brief but illuminating survey of the challenges facing modern policing, one of the UK's most senior police leaders wrote “the multitude of challenges facing the police service in Britain are, it seems to me, greater than at any point since the end of the Second World War.” And leaders across the country are recognizing that “the old way of addressing our community's most vulnerable populations [are] clearly not working.” (link - page 3)

Yet the technology that agencies have to support them seems to be falling farther and farther behind: major cities struggling to extract the right data to report to the FBI or finding it difficult to explain to their communities why they can't calculate the number of DUIs they've had.

“The old way of addressing our community's most vulnerable populations [are] clearly not working.”

What agencies need is a future-proofed Records Management System (RMS) - one that accomplishes a couple of key goals:

  • First, is designed to put officers back on the street. We've heard too many agencies talk about shift-killing arrests - the kind that takes an officer out of commission for hours at a time. Everything an RMS does for a front-line officer should be dedicated to making sure the easy thing is the right thing - so they're confident they've done what needs to be done, can submit a report error-free, and get back out in the community.
  • Second, helps an agency solve and prosecute crime. This means enabling easy search through a system, the compilation and review of many types of digital files in a single place, and effective sharing and communication with prosecutors.
  • Third, to help prevent crime and other incidents before they occur. Many agencies have now implemented some version of Compstat to regularly review trends in crime and policing, but all too often this takes days of work and only gives agency leaders a once-a-month snapshot. A future-proofed RMS should be able to provide the right information, at the right time, and in the right format. We regularly hear from police leaders: “You can't prevent crime this week if you don't know when, how, and why crime happened last week.”

Lastly, police today are dealing with the modern digital society we live in —meaning that for every offense, there might be a CCTV recording, forensic photography, and videos and photos from witnesses of the event. A future-proofed RMS needs to be able to handle those challenges effortlessly while reducing the time it takes an officer to capture, ingest, and review all of that data. We have a lot more to say on that topic, so check out our previous article, "Is your RMS ready for the digital world we live in?"

Interested in learning more about RMS?

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Banner photo by William Bout on Unsplash