How Law Enforcement CAD Systems Help with Case Management in 2020
The types of cases a law enforcement agency manages are vast. The efficiency with which cases are organized is greatly increased when a computer aided dispatching (CAD) system is part of the management plan. The agency policymakers of today likely started their careers when case management was handled largely with papers, folders, and filing cabinets. The evolution of the electronic equivalent in which scanned documents and saved files created on a word processor were saved on a single hard drive resulted in only a slight improvement in case management.
The use of CAD, combined with an agency’s records management system (RMS) and mobile technology, brought data organization well into the 21st century. Advances in case management have meant improved clearance rates, reductions in civil liabilities, increased efficiency, and safer communities. As noted, law enforcement agencies contend with a variety of case types. Usually, case management is thought to apply primarily to detectives and how they balance the intricacies of an investigation. However, the following two examples will examine how case management and CAD can benefit two other instrumental components of a law enforcement agency; the 911 center and the patrol function.
CAD, Case Management, and the 911 Center
A case may commence with a 911 call, a radio transmission, or any number of other ways. Regardless, the instant a case begins, law enforcement CAD system is working to manage every aspect of its contents. One of the first things to happen will be the issuance of a sequential case number: the identifier which will forever be used to associate the incident to its subsequent documentation. As the event is established, the CAD system will begin to auto-populate important details such as the physical address, the appropriate patrol unit based on precinct or other geographical assignment, and any special alerts associated with the location.
As patrol units are en route and the incident continues, 911 operators will continually enter new information into the CAD system as it becomes available. Important aspects of case management are happening simultaneously within CAD and can include updating details of a developing event. For instance, if the case involves a vehicle, not only will CAD include specifics such as a description, direction of travel, and license plate, but also changes in location as they happen. Information about a suspect involved in the call for service as well as any known hazards first responders may face can also be included in CAD as part of managing the case.
In the event of a multi-agency incident, CAD can manage the response from police, fire fighters, and emergency medical service (EMS) personnel. Additionally, the use of the AgencyLink feature will permit not only traditional public safety to benefit from a shared CAD approach, but partner organizations such as animal control, public transportation, private security, and others. All of this information becomes a part of the permanent incident record and allows for better case management during and after any type of event.
CAD, Case Management, and Patrol
It is far more common than Hollywood would let on: patrol officers routinely conduct investigations and manage a caseload. It is not always the detective who shows up on a scene and takes over. While individual police agency procedures will vary, it is not uncommon for those in the traditional uniform function to take the lead role in a criminal investigation. From domestic violence to DUI, to drug possession, to theft incidents and more, the men and women in uniform also benefit from CAD's role in case management.
A domestic violence call for service, for example, can have a multitude of important details which much be properly managed from beginning to end. As previously stated, the call for help itself will begin to populate many of the vital aspects of the incident including the location, phone number(s), subjects involved, and historical information. Special alerts entered into CAD can be accessed by responding units to help identify previous violent encounters, the presence of weapons, or other areas related to officer safety.
The officer will rely on the details in the CAD system to complete the report. This is true regardless of whether an arrest was made as accurate documentation of incidents is increasingly required. In the current example, the primary report-taking officer will include call times, locations, subjects, and the actions he or she took at the scene in their documentation. Any information not obtained from CAD will be included in the integrated RMS. This level of case management can be advantageous to the officer for presentation in court proceedings as well as to the victim for any restraining orders or other similar protective actions. Finally, the details of the entire case being included in the RMS and CAD systems stand to offer increased safety and better service capabilities for future incidents.
Regardless of which agency component is utilizing CAD in their case management, the supervisors of those respective units can also reap the benefits. In the 911 communication center, supervisors can manage personnel assignments and relief duties based on the call volume and the amount of attention an individual dispatcher will need to devote to a particular call for service. Patrol supervisors can use the integrated CAD and RMS to review active cases, assign additional tasks, and set due dates for investigative steps. CAD also allows supervisors to determine the number and types of cases handled by a particular employee as well as their dispositions. Being able to identify not only individual case assignment, but those made by precinct, shift, and day of the week, allow law enforcement managers to better plan for future staffing and budgetary needs.