April 9, 2012 By Brian Heaton
Local law enforcement agencies interested in jumping on the electronic reporting bandwagon can now do it for free in Kansas.
The Kansas Highway Patrol (KHP) has developed a four-part integrated data solution that combines field reporting, records management, electronic ticketing and court management functionality. To encourage use of the system, the KHP is picking up the tab for up to three concurrent licenses for each local police department in the state that wants to try it.
So what’s the catch? Law enforcement agencies have to use the KHP’s proprietary field reporting application and users must agree to submit reports electronically to the state. The combination of integrated software platforms is called the KLER Justice Solution.
Local police will receive free access to the field reporting and records management portions of the system for two years. They’ll be billed a small annual fee for their concurrent licenses after that. The charge will be collected by Global Software, the vendor of the records management system (RMS) portion of the project.
The system’s other two pieces -- FullCourt Enterprise, a court solution provided by Justice Systems Inc., and digiTICKET, the electronic citation component -- are available to local agencies at a reduced cost.
The system’s field reporting module was rolled out in early 2010, followed by the new RMS.
Mark Thurman, CIO of the KHP, said the primary goals of the integrated Justice Solution project were to provide local law enforcement agencies the ability to go paperless by using KLER and get reports submitted to the state electronically which saves money.
Other priorities, according to Thurman, were to give officers secure access to shared data, build efficiency through system integration, and add a suite of technology components that would extend from a patrol car through agency review and onto state agencies in Kansas.
“The idea was to be able to capture the data once and use it whenever and wherever we need it,” Thurman said. “The goal was to make it generic enough to not only be used by the Highway Patrol, but by any law enforcement agency in Kansas.”
The entire project was financed using federal grants.
Getting an integrated system online for use by hundreds of law enforcement agencies hasn’t been easy task. It took IT staff roughly nine months to integrate the field reporting module with the new RMS system just to get the KHP running on the technology. That made repeating the process for roughly 450 local law enforcement agencies in Kansas a daunting prospect.
According to Thurman, there were a variety of issues that had to be resolved, including how to accommodate unique data configurations used by individual police departments.
“We needed a plan to shorten that [timeframe] and we’re in the process of completing an online mechanism for them to basically start providing us that information,” he said, adding that training on the system also will be done on the Web through a short user guide and individual instruction on the operation of each individual module in the KLER Justice Solution.
With the data-sharing requirements and preparation work necessary to get on the system, one might assume interest would be mild from local police departments. But Thurman said that hasn’t been the case.
He explained that most law enforcement agencies in Kansas are made up of 12 officers or less, and many departments don’t have electronic reporting technology at all. So the opportunity to get the latest technology for free has been popular.
In addition, even though some of the bigger departments may have their own RMS or reporting technology in place already, the KHP solution is cheaper.
“Even in these larger entities, under the contract I put in place, they are going to pay less to get in on this hosted solution than what they currently are paying for maintenance now on their own,” Thurman explained.
Aside from the financial considerations, Thurman said changing attitudes about data have helped the project.
“Two years ago, nobody wanted to share their data [and] now they will,” he said. “It’s a nice trend that I’ve seen. [Local police departments] see the value in it when I say ‘the Highway Patrol is putting their data out there,’ so for better and safer policing, it just makes good sense.”
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