Technology and Officer Reports

By Ed Rast

Did you know that today, just like in 1960-70’s, many San Jose Police officers still hand write their crime reports?

San Jose has about 520 patrol officers who complete 1 or more crime reports per shift with each report taking 1 to 2 hours to complete. Potentially 1 to 4 hours (10% - 40%) of an police officer’s 10-hour shift are not available for officers to spend on patrol, crime prevention and community policing.

A report for a single drunk driving incident can take up to 4 hours for a police officer to complete because they must complete both a drunk driving crime report and an accident report.

Some police officers use their own personal computers to fill out the San Jose Crime Report (Form 2) Word document template rather than write a hand-written report, and then they print out the crime or accident report(s) since the current systems does not accept electronically submitted reports.

When each shift ends, police officers turn in their manual or personal computer printed crime reports to shift supervisors. After being reviewed, the incident, arrest, crime and accident reports are sent to the police records section where staff manually inputs the crime reports data into the current police records system’s crime and accident templates. The manual or printed crime records are then manually filed in one of the police records warehouses by the records staff

A well designed, modern, comprehensive police records management system would retrieve already available police dispatch and records information to quickly fill in crime and accident report data fields so patrol officers could quickly go back to their patrol, community policing, and crime prevention duties.

Recent San Jose crime or incident data is not easily available for 1-2 days or more after a crime or series of crimes occurs. Access to recent computerized incident and crime records would allow patrol officers or detectives to quickly analyze recent crime reports to determine crime patterns and dispatch specialized or additional patrol units with the crime report’s suspect or suspicious vehicle descriptions to prevent or solve multiple crimes.

Since 2007, San Jose’s 50-officer traffic unit has successfully used hand-held computers to replace the previous paper-based traffic citation process and improve accuracy in issuing, collecting and recording citations for traffic violations, DUIs and other violations.

A modern police records management system could be used to easily prepare crime, routine police, and requested police statistical reports, retrieve police record requests, and redact victim and witness information which now takes many staff hours or is not available due to staff shortages. Significant police officer and staff time would then be available to focus on further reducing our city’s crime rates to make San Jose a safer city.