Refined recordkeeping and evidence processes keep officers in their communities
Good recordkeeping is no less essential for public safety than regular patrols and community engagement. It supports the rest of the justice system, helps identify systemic issues before they become critical and ensures accountability for the important work each officer does every day. But when many officers must spend three hours or more of each shift filling out paperwork, that massive time commitment reduces the amount of good they’re able to do out in the community.
The solution is to reduce police paperwork without reducing recordkeeping. Axon’s products and services significantly reduce the burden of paperwork on public safety departments of all sizes. Many of these products can even work together to streamline processes, save time and bolster accountability. Here’s how Axon is making a difference in paperwork for law enforcement.
7 Axon technologies that streamline police paperwork
1. Dynamic form filling to reduce police paperwork
Mandatory forms store information that is essential for understanding daily practices and following up with investigations where needed. But they also create a lot of busywork; for example, filling out reports for two different automobile accidents may involve typing out paragraphs’ worth of repeated information before reaching the individual details of each collision.
Axon Records’ dynamic report writing and configurable workflows allow officers to select customizable templates for various common report types. To return to our example of automobile accidents, the officer could select the same template for both incidents and then use each as a jumping-off point to quickly fill in the relevant details for each. The important information is stored and the officer saves valuable time.
2. Customizable form requirements get it right the first time
It’s easy to see how a time-strapped officer tackling a mountain of paperwork might overlook a field here and there on a form, leaving them empty. However, those fields may be necessary for the report to be properly filed or fully serve its purpose as a record of truth in the future. This means more busy work for multiple people down the line: the administrators who notice the oversight, the supervisor who assigns the correction and the officer who has to change and get it approved, to name a few.
Fortunately, Axon Records doesn’t just make writing reports faster. When an agency marks certain report fields as required in Axon Standards, those fields are automatically marked in red so they’re harder to miss. The report-writing interface will also automatically display validation errors if those fields are not filled out properly. Agencies can decide whether reports may still be submitted with those errors in place or if they must be corrected first; either way, officers and administrators reduce police paperwork and potential unpleasant surprises down the road.
3. Automated case management streamlines paperwork for law enforcement
Handling a mix of new, ongoing and archived cases is a constant logistical challenge for public safety departments. A misfiled report here or accidentally repeated case ID number there could make it difficult to find later, so many departments dedicate hours to making sure that cases line up correctly across reports and are presented in a complete and compliant fashion. This is a massive administrative task all its own.
When agencies enable the in Axon Records, making a new incident report will also automatically make a new case and route it to a unit inbox based on a number of factors. This reduces the chances of time-wasting mistakes while speeding up associated processes, saving time for departments now and in the future.
4. Easier record and evidence sharing with attorneys
Axon’s effort to reduce police paperwork can even have positive impacts later on in the justice process. Attorneys require ready access to information collected by police to prepare for their legal proceedings, and it can be an extensive undertaking to ensure they have everything they need – often sorted according to their own, distinct case identification system. If detectives uncover any new information after the initial discovery process concludes, the whole retrieval process may even need to start over again.
Fortunately, Axon Records’ improvements to case management don’t end at the police department. Agencies that have enabled integration between Axon Records Case Management and Axon Evidence can allow the creation of a new Records case to generate a corresponding one in Evidence automatically. Any files added to either will appear in both applications, averting discovery-related back-and-forth that slows the justice process.
5. Fast evidence review with auto-transcription
Anyone who has manually transcribed even a few minutes’ worth of conversation knows how slow it can be to do it accurately – easily taking three or four times as long as the recording itself. But the advent of body-worn cameras means an individual department may capture hundreds of incidents’ worth of video and audio recordings in the space of a day. This presents an impossible task to fully manage through manual methods of audio transcription, or a very difficult one with auto-transcription tools that weren’t built to reduce police paperwork.
Axon Auto-Transcribe uses state-of-the-art speech recognition technology to efficiently generate complete transcripts of recordings. With Fast Evidence Review enabled, you’ll even be able to see the transcript right alongside each video file for easy searching, complete with time stamps. Meanwhile, Axon Redaction Assistant automatically blurs audio, screens, faces and license plates as needed.
6. Human-verified transcripts for documented truth
Regardless of how accurate automated tools may be, when they’re applied to a process as important as establishing truth, they will always require human oversight. In order to retain trust and accountability across the entire organization, it’s essential to ensure any piece of transcribed evidence has received this kind of oversight.
Axon Auto-Transcribe requires human input to confirm that a transcript has been verified and is thus ready to be used for legal purposes. This manual verification process is then recorded as a piece of evidence’s audit trail. If the transcript requires any adjustments after initial verification, it must be manually unverified first, leaving an event that is also logged in the audit trail. This lets departments ensure they’re presenting the most accurate record possible while maintaining accountability throughout.
7. Comprehensive BWC audits that center human judgment
The same body-worn camera footage that can help establish truth in tense situations is also a precious resource for officer training and assessment. The problem, again, is its quantity. Realistically speaking, supervisors cannot review all the footage that comes into the department. But neither manually reviewing a random sampling of incidents nor relying on “professionalism scores” generated by opaque algorithms fully addresses the potential drawbacks or benefits of BWC audits.
To reduce paperwork for law enforcement while enabling better outcomes, Axon Performance supports Priority Ranked Video Audit. PRVA uses speech-to-text and keyword searching to surface the footage that is most dense with these keywords – which can encompass anything from indications of positive interactions to the names of local gangs. It can also automatically highlight moments when the officer drew their TASER energy weapon or sidearm. Each of these moments is presented to the supervisor so they can evaluate the officer’s conduct in individual situations and as a whole.
Start building better processes with Axon OSP
These are just some of the ways that Axon is working to reduce police paperwork and keep officers in their communities. If your department already uses a selection of Axon products, take this opportunity to ensure you’re using all of their capabilities to streamline your processes – our support teams are always ready to help you maximize your department’s investment.
If you aren’t working with Axon yet, consider equipping your agency with an Officer Safety Plan. It bundles together the latest Axon tech and offers significant savings over purchasing products separately; for departments that have gotten used to relying on a scattershot selection of solutions, you may be shocked to see how much more efficiently you can work with a solution that was comprehensively created to preserve life and establish truth.