Survey Looks at Law Enforcement Reporting Demands
Tuesday, January 30, 2018 | Comments

A new vendor-sponsored survey found that most law enforcement professionals spend at least three to four hours a day completing incident reports and other police paperwork, which means 50 percent of an average shift is being taken up by inefficient documentation processes.

The “2018 Role of Technology in Law Enforcement Paperwork Annual Report,” sponsored by Nuance Communications, examines key documentation issues facing law enforcement professionals specific to incident reporting and other essential documentation tasks, and how these requirements impact report accuracy, productivity and safety. The report — resulting from a November 2017 survey deployed to more than 12,000 police chiefs and their command staff, including patrol officers, detectives, sergeants, lieutenants and those responsible for IT and records management systems (RMS) — considers how departments are using technology to improve reporting processes.

Survey data found law enforcement professionals are faced with high reporting demands that are critical part of the job, but impact productivity and safety because of inefficient, outdated procedures. Key findings include:
• More than 39 percent of law enforcement professionals surveyed spend three to four hours per day completing incident reports and other documentation, with 13 percent spending more than four hours.
• With heavy reporting demands, more than 50 percent of respondents say they spend at least one-quarter of their time on reporting duties back at the station, limiting the time spent in the community.
• More than half of the departments surveyed undertake reporting tasks manually, without the assistance of transcription staff or other technologies such as speech recognition, further burdening law enforcement professionals with inefficient documentation duties.
• Most respondents — 96 percent — "strongly agree" or "agree" that technology packed into patrol cars is cause for distraction, such as the impact on situational awareness when heads-down entering data into CAD systems.
• 58 percent say they use a combination of mobile and digital tools to help them complete incident reports, including digital recorders, mobile phones or tablets.
• Despite widespread use of mobile technologies in the incident reporting process, 31 percent of respondents are either “very dissatisfied” or “dissatisfied” with their department’s use of police technology to help them do their jobs.
• RMS and CAD systems are used by more than two-thirds of the departments surveyed; however, 52 percent of officers said getting to and entering data takes dozens of clicks and can sometimes prove uncomfortable because of ergonomic issues while in the patrol car.

“You can’t ignore the need for accurate reporting in law enforcement, and how important documentation is in working cases and fighting crime in our communities,” said former Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis. “But this comes with many challenges, all of which tap into critical tasks officers need to perform each day. Technology has helped make the process more efficient, but many departments are still working through manual incident reporting or human transcription that can be time consuming and costly.”

Nuance said its speech recognition technology can improve incident reporting.

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