Leveraging Technology as a Force Multiplier
While the public sector replaces manual pen and paper processes with digital automation, law enforcement continues to rely on handwritten ticketing. According to Jeffrey D. Rubenstein, founder and CEO of APS, courts dismiss approximately 20 to 30 percent of all handwritten traffic citations because of incorrect information. Most important, 70 percent of officer fatalities happen when officers are outside of their squad car. Finding new ways to help protect our officers is a top priority in every jurisdiction—local, county, and state.
To solve the issues above, more precincts are turning to electronic citation (e-citation) systems to meet ever-growing data collection and reporting requirements without compromising officer safety or effectiveness. Officers can use handheld devices, mobile computers, and printers to complete traffic stops faster, safer, and more efficiently while focusing more of their attention on offenders. Computer-assisted operations, such as e-ticketing with handheld devices, also provide more accurate information than manual methods. The results are complete, enforceable citations that improve conviction rates, reduce court administration time, and increase collections.
Simplify the Ticketing and Court Handling Process
Beyond helping officers pay more attention to offenders and complete citations faster, procedures in the field remain the same. However, computer-assisted data collection builds a foundation of accurate information that streamlines processing requirements and eliminates redundant data entry and the need for clerical support. It also facilitates rapid, easy information sharing, resulting in citations that discourage challenges and hold up in court.
There is no need for clerks or officers to transcribe and type records into the system, which provides tremendous time and labor savings and eliminates the chance of errors to enter the record. With electronic citation systems, offices record information once—never requires additional manual processing—and is quickly available to everyone with access to the records system.
Beyond the beat, automated data entry and sharing benefits court processing. Many e-citation software applications use standardized data formats, simplifying data sharing with multiple databases and other software applications. As a result, multiple departments, agencies, and organizations can access this data for quick integration with their own computer systems. According to a University of Pittsburgh School of Law study, it takes an average of 12 days to process a paper citation and send it to court. Software-based systems process the data and transmit it to headquarters in seconds, helping to ease administrative backlog at both law enforcement agencies and the courts.
Because of results like these, electronic citation systems return their value quickly, and continue to provide significant financial benefits long after the system is paid for. The City of Vancouver recently equipped 100 of their officers with e-citations and wide-area wireless data communications. Their results showed annual benefits of $235,000 during the system’s first six years of operation, and $393,000 annually thereafter.
Improve Office Safety
E-citation systems can help improve officer safety because law enforcement officers no longer must spend as much time outside of their squad car. Fast citation processing and printing allows officers to get back into their cars to immediately resume their mission. In fact, when agencies add high-performance mobile printers to their tool kit, law enforcement officers can issue a traffic citation in less than 60 seconds, dramatically minimizing risk to officers, who spend less time on the side of the road and in contact with traffic offenders.
For more information about the advantages of e-citation for law enforcement, see our E-Citation White Paper.