San Diego aims to speed police work
- By Dibya Sarkar
- Feb 04, 2001
With about 100,000 criminal cases annually, the San Diego Police Department
hopes a new computer system will speed the handling of cases.
With the help of Sierra Systems Group Inc., an information technology consulting
firm based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, the police department
plans to have the knowledge-based workflow system operational by April.
Currently, San Diego police officers, whose patrol vehicles are equipped
with laptop computers, can write incident reports at the scene but must
return to the station to upload the report, said Shawn Killpack, the department's
information systems administrator.
An investigative sergeant must approve an officer's report before assigning
it to a detective for investigation. This could take up to three days, he
said. Only in rare instances, such as high-profile cases, are investigators
immediately sent out, he said.
With the knowledge-based system, officers could file reports from the
field. After a sergeant approves a report, it is stored in a central repository.
System software determines which department should be assigned the case.
An investigative unit's supervisor receives an e-mail, which links to the
case, and a detective is assigned.
"It's theoretically possible that within a few minutes the investigator
could be assigned to a case," Killpack said.
Sierra and police officials said the system would greatly reduce the
data-entry workload, increase efficiency, save money and enable officers
to do more investigative activities and less paperwork.
Jim Cox of Sierra said a central repository would house reports and
information. The system also would automatically route report copies to
a distribution list via e-mail. Usually, a dozen or more copies of a report
are sent through interoffice mail.
Another new feature would be a direct interface with a countywide criminal
and justice database called the Automated Regional Justice Information System
(ARJIS). Instead of taking days or weeks to send information to ARJIS, the
new system would automatically send case information to ARJIS once it's
committed to the department's central repository, Killpack said.
Eventually, search capabilities will be built into the system. Future
phases include extending the workflow system to city and district attorneys'
offices and making criminal information available to the public via the
Killpack said the department is spending $12.5 million during two years
to implement software, new hardware and upgrades.