The Raleigh, N.C., Police Department (RPD) has one key goal likely shared by law enforcement agencies across the country: making their city one of the safest in America. To accomplish this, the department strives to stay one step ahead by upgrading technologies and evolving strategies to prevent crimes.

Recently the RPD adopted an online crime reporting system where citizens can file non-emergency police reports. The deployment required a tech overhaul -- a complicated effort, especially when dealing with 700 computer users across six police districts.

“RPD … didn't have a baseline of how many issues they were handling,” said Lawrence Cullipher, the department’s IT director. “They were also two people short, overstretching the team further. Budget was not available to backfill these positions, and the lack of a system to track and manage support requests was adding to the workload. Service to end-users was suffering. The best solution was to quickly roll out a service-desk solution that would substantially reduce the workload associated with manual tracking of incidents and enhance efficiency levels, thereby addressing the resource challenge.”

Enter software-as-a-service company Samanage, enlisted to help the department get a handle on IT operations, reduce IT costs and bridge the gap in human resource availability.

“A quick-to-deploy, easy-to-use system of tracking and managing incidents, thereby increasing efficiency, was the only way to win back sufficient time of the IT team so that service levels would improve,” Cullipher said.

The department integrated an asset management software system with a self-service portal. The asset management software allows IT specialists to track the department’s hardware and software inventory, guarantee software compliance and improve security.

Darroll Buytenhuys, Samanage’s president, explained to Government Technology that assets managed by the company extend beyond traditional IT infrastructure. “Any asset associated with its supplier or maintenance contract can be easily managed in the service. The project was unique to Samanage because of the nature of the technology and equipment that the police department needed to track, manage and support across the stations and in each car.”

The upgrades began in September 2011, and the asset management system was deployed in less than 24 hours. Next came the self-service portal. This solution was integrated to provide IT specialists with tools to better serve end users. The software allows administrators to channel tickets and reduce the number of calls and email requests.

Cullipher described the previous environment. “When officers called in with problems concerning the computers and equipment in their cars, all the service requests were addressed manually.” The new system captures each call, creating a service ticket that can be addressed quickly, while also allowing the department to identify trend data. “As a result, they were able to establish a baseline to better gauge the amount of tickets the team was handling and this built a case for budgeting for new hires,” he added.

Raleigh PD opted for a staged implementation to avoid jeopardizing service levels during the deployment process, as well as minimize budget impacts.

By the end of 2011, the department had increased efficiency while providing better service to internal customers. Both improvements positioned RPD to improve service to the community.

“Every staff member must be confident that if access to their IT tools and information is in any way not performing, assistance will be readily available. The efficiency of the IT team directly impacts the front-line staff who are dealing with community demands and expectations,” Cullipher said. “Police departments across the country are dependent on technology to effectively do their jobs and support their communities. Today more than ever before, every person in the department is a knowledge worker. Access to systems and information is basic to effectively servicing the community.”

Jessica Renee Napier  |  Contributing Writer

Jessica Renee Napier is a California-based writer who began her journalism career in public broadcasting. She teaches yoga, enjoys traveling and likes to stay up on all things tech.