Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Fast and thorough

Last week while I was teaching in California, I had a brief converstation at lunch with a crime analyst and a lieutenant from one of the northern valley cities. They were among the last to arrive, so were stuck in the row up front. During the break, I was checking on a few things back at the office. I hadn’t turned the LCD projector off, so the contents of my computer screen were still being displayed as I worked a few emails and did a couple of other minor chores. One of the things I did was check on current dispatches back home, just to see what was going on.

The crime analyst asked me if that was live data, and I explained. I happened to notice that several of the 20 or so dispatches showing at the top of the screen were already marked “IR IN.” This means that the Incident Report had already been submitted. I clicked on a few of those, showing that in some cases, the thefts, burglaries, vandalism, and other incidents reported early in the afternoon on January 28th already had police Incident Reports submitted by lunchtime in Calilfornia. In one case, we were actually watching as Officer Jerome Blowers completed his report on the theft of an iPod from a locker at Southwest High School. In another case, there was a 28 minute lag between the crime being dispatched and the Incident Report being submitted and in the database.

Now that raised an eyebrow or two. Many crime analysts deal with records systems where there is a considerable delay between the officer investigating the crime, submitting the report, and the report being available in a database. We’re talking about a lag of days—in some cases weeks. We, on the other hand, usually have the report ready within two or three hours, often even more quickly. Anyone with authorized access can be reading those reports online from wherever they happen to be located. After some work by the Records Unit to complete UCR coding and match name entries, the data is automatically geocoded and in our crime maps the next morning.

Like many other aspects of our information systems, I think we often take this for granted. Since I have the opportunity to bang elbows with people from other departments on a more regular basis than most, I’m probably more aware than most of just how different this is. Officers who get involved in cross-jurisdictional cases often have an awakening when they need to get basic information from other police departments. And it’s not just the speed. The depth of information available, and the ability of people who need it to get it when they need it is crucial. I have yet to find any police department that can put as much information into the hands of its personnel at 3:00 AM on Sunday morning as we can. Thanks, lpd172.


Anonymous said...

Clair Lindquist is a HUGE asset to the department! It helps a lot that Clair was a Sergeant and understands what officers want and need.

Thanks Clair, we really apprecite your work!

Anonymous said...

A title for a book, featuring techniques for newlyweds.
"Fast and Through"

Anonymous said...

Having our own programmer has saved the department THOUSANDS of dollars over the years. It's all been built in-house which has enabled LPD to do things you can't do with a box off the shelf. With upgrades of software and computers over the years we have over 25+ years of data. If you are using a terminal, pc, or an's all accessing the same computer. Also, it's interesting to see the 2nd generation of criminals. Are you arresting Jr. or Sr.?

Anonymous said...

You don't have to go far from Lincoln to find department record systems that are cutting edge 1965. Even some of those that have computerized still have multiple systems that they have to check individually to accomplish the same thing most LPD officers can do from one screen. Historically, this is even more significant that disregarding the method that you use to access the system (PC, Terminal, or MDT this has been the normal means of accessing the
records information by officer for over 30 years.

Bravo 172 & 604 and those other forward thinkers of that time.