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Software
I would worry more about private industry and
government entities whose missions are purely
administrative.  When it comes to police
departments, the absolutely marvelous capabilities
of today's computer software are still eluding most.

Odds are, better than not, that you'll join a police
department where you'll soon become far more
proficient with any computerized reporting system,
that may be in place, than those who are in
command.  There's a high probability that the
capabilities of your reporting system will be
significantly under utilized due to the inability of
those in command to conceptualize the relationship
between computers and crime fighting.

A lot of police commanders would take issue with
me, and they'd trot out tons of crime statistics --
preferably those showing crime decreases -- to
prove that they're tracking and fighting crime.  If
you'd ask them to produce the results of
investigative uses and successes of their computer
software, you'd probably be met with silence.

When it comes to software designed for reporting
crime, you can't, at this point, possibly realize just
how important and potentially useful the
information you enter can be.  If you're lucky
enough to join a police department where you can
query all of that information through key words and
search terms just as you do on Internet search
engines, you'll gain a new appreciation for the
information you collect and enter.  Unfortunately,
most of the search capabilities will be limited only
because police commanders are more interested in
numerical statistics which have no practical
relationship to the software's potential crime
fighting uses.
The biggest advantage you should immediately
realize is the time you'll save with crime/incident
reporting software.  Aside from the actual
crime/incident report, you'll often have associated
forms and documents that need to accompany the
original report.  If you're writing all your reports my
hand, you'll spend a lot of time copying redundant
information, i.e. names, addresses, locations, dates,
times, etc.  With software, all that redundant
information will already be there as you complete
the various associated forms.

If you're worried about your ability to use
crime/incident reporting software,don't be.  It's just
a matter of practice.  If your software is well
programed, it won't let you make mistakes either.
If you join a police department that views its
crime/incident reporting software with the
importance it deserves, you'll be in for a pleasurable
experience.

But...never forget this.  While the software may
save you time and ensure more accuracy in many
ways, it will never be able to write your narrative for
you.  It can help you write a better narrative, but
you're ability to describe events and circumstances
will always be the most important factor affecting
your police report.
One police department, which shall remain
anonymous, had a problem with its arrest/booking
software.  In the field/box where the arresting
officer entered his or her departmental ID number,
there was room for a five digit identifier.

The larger, primary police department that used the
system issued four digit identifiers to its officers
while some other smaller agencies, transit police,
etc issued five digit identifiers.

The problem arose when the four digit crowd
entered their identifiers in the first four spaces of
the field/box.  The software was programed to
identify the four digit ID's from the last four
spaces.  If the last space was left blank, the ID
could not be identified.
Now...you'd probably suggest a technical fix.  Not
so with the commanders in this police department.  
An email memo was issued explaining the problem
and instructing, in this case, hundreds of police
officers to be sure and enter their ID's
properly...sure.

I can't knock all police commanders.  There will
always be at least one in the upper levels of
command who understands that computer software
requires constant attention and support.  It's just
that the people who understand the unique needs
of software support rarely have the authority to
implement that support without jumping through a
lot of hoops.
I have to laugh when I hear the experts on civil
rights moan about data mining, and the dangers
posed by police departments having access to large
amounts of information, and the ability to track and
utilize that information through advanced computer
software.
"If you'd ask them to produce the results of
investigative uses and successes of their
computer software, you'd probably be met
with silence." ~ Barry M. Baker
Copyright © 2018  Barry M. Baker  
CareerPoliceOfficer.com
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