The results of a recent survey of the nation’s law enforcement officers confirms what we hear most often when meeting with police departments across the country – paperwork is keeping them away from the communities and citizens they serve.
The demands for quality, timely and detailed documentation, although a necessary part of police work, continues to intensify for law enforcement professionals at every level, virtually everywhere in the nation.
Police departments are accountable to the communities they serve, as well as a wide variety of government and regulatory agencies. These pressures increase every year, with calls for more transparency and community involvement in policing. Officers at every rank agree that the paperwork they do is very important, but as with many document-intensive jobs, there are concerns that it will overwhelm and could eventually burn them out.
Nuance Communications, makers of Dragon Law Enforcement speech recognition software, deployed a survey to more than 12,000 police chiefs and their command staff recently and found 39 percent of respondents said they spent 3-4 hours daily on incident reports and other-police paperwork. More than 30 percent of those surveyed said they spend at least a quarter of their day back at the station working on reports, not out on the streets or responding to citizens. And nearly 15 percent said they spent more than half of their workday on reporting duties.
The officers who participated in the survey agreed that time spent on incident reporting is taking them away from more high value-tasks such as being visible in the community.
Records Management (RMS) and Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) systems, used by more than two thirds of the departments we surveyed, are helpful and are essential to documentation workflows, however, getting to and entering data takes multiple clicks and can sometimes prove uncomfortable due to ergonomic issues of entering data in patrol cars, according to 52 percent of the officers we surveyed.
You can read the full 2018 Role of Technology in Law Enforcement Paperwork annual report here.
The good news: police officers say they are open to change – more than 77 percent of the officers we surveyed said they were willing to explore new technology and transcription tools in 2018 that would help them complete paperwork in a more efficient manner.
We’re excited to help departments explore their options. Police officers want to put the people they serve ahead of paperwork, and we stand ready to help.