November 15, 2021
Carl Brooks, Consultant
Ed Claughton, President
PRI Management Group
According to the Dallas Morning News, over four million case notes, audio files, photos, and videos totaling greater than seven terabytes of data have been inappropriately erased recently. According to the paper, the District Attorney’s Office and Dallas PD have estimated that the data loss may have impacted as many as 17,000 cases. Those familiar with the case suggested the data loss is attributable to Dallas PD’s insufficient procedures governing data management. Unfortunately, this is common.
Information Management in Law Enforcement
Records and data management requires governance built upon policy, business process, training and technology. Consider your department’s answers to the following probative questions to gauge its level of preparedness for guarding against the kind of catastrophe that happened in Dallas.
- Do you have a dedicated system administrator who directly controls CAD/RMS configurations, access, and user rights levels, or is this function relegated to another agency or office?
- Do IT personnel confer with police personnel before taking action on police data?
- How often are these systems backed-up? Where? How? And by whom?
- Is someone assigned to cleaning/validating CAD/RMS data (master names, addresses, etc.) on a regular basis?
- Does the agency have a written system’s and/or data governance policy?
- Are records and data routinely purged according to retention schedules and is the process managed following industry best practice (two-party validation and confirmation)?
- What training have your records, IT, and police personnel jointly attended to ensure everyone is on the same page? Have they been included in drafting or updating agency policy in this area? Do they meet regularly to stay on top of agency information management operations and procedures?
- Is your department considering joining or creating a consortium for a shared CAD/RMS and if so, has proper planning occurred? Has a governance board been established? Are there going to be power grabs or political interference that will prevent a successful outcome?
What does a Chief or Sheriff do when they need funding for the technology, training, or personnel required to mitigate against the disastrous consequences of mismanagement of law enforcement systems and data? How do law enforcement leaders fight the “defund” movement? Risk mitigation, proper technology, and training cost money.
In Alaska, the Department of Public Safety sought funding through the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant from the Bureau of Justice Assistance and received over $73,000 to digitize sex offender registrations. The Logan County West Virginia Sheriff’s Office received over $15,000 as part of a records enhancement project. Lake County Montana used the same grant to get over $16,000 for its records management support project. See grants.gov for guidance as well as your state’s grants administration office for possible funding opportunities.
Most agencies do not have a dedicated law enforcement grant writer and thus miss out on these opportunities. Federal funds exist through the Office of Community Oriented Policing (COPS), the Office of Justice Programs (OJP), the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), and numerous other federal entities.
States offer these programs as well. For example, in Maryland, the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention (GOCCP) awards millions of dollars of grants across multiple fields from equipment to training.
Major corporations such as Target, Wal-Mart, MetLife, and Exelon Nuclear donate to law enforcement as part of community-oriented grant funding. Even celebrities such as Ben Rothlisberger (Rothlisberger Foundation) and Gary Sinise (Gary Sinise Foundation First Responders Outreach) also donate funding to first responders.
How PRI Can Help
Since 2008, PRI has been exclusively helping law enforcement agencies procure, manage and implement their systems, records, and data in the most cost-effective and efficient manner, ensuring their compliance with the maze of governing public records, NIBRS and technology standards. Contact us for help at 305-460-0096 or [email protected].