Hand writing a citation is not a thing of the past, but it should be. Agencies that adopt an eCitation solution improve policing operations and increase officer safety.
Electronic citation is more than just automating and reproducing a paper-based approach. A modern solution implements complex business rules and validation that can almost guarantee that the citation can't be completed when crucial information is missing. Using a drop down lists for entries that have a limited number of possibilities (such as street names or ordinance) will reduce spelling errors. In addition, because an eCitation solution auto-populates the appropriate fields that are reported back from the mobile data client (MDC), the citation can be completed quickly and accurately.
The current capabilities of eCitation are fairly advanced, but there is still plenty of scope for future enhancements. The requirement would be to make citations even easier for the officer to issue, cheaper for the agency to implement and manage, and simpler for the violator to take action. A great potential enhancement is a paperless citation delivered digitally. The workflow would involve an officer using an agency issued device (possibly a cell phone) to scan the violator driver license, photograph the tag on the car and run optical character recognition (OCR) in the background. These two data points would then be queried with DMV and other national/state repositories. The results retrieved could be used to generate a new citation displayed on the device. The device would then use its GPS to determine location of offense as well as other objective data points (maybe weather, lighting, road surface type) all available from the cloud. The officer would still be required to enter some data, such as the offense. Finally, the violator could see the citation on the device, sign it and have it emailed or texted without the need for a printed version. The citation would then be automatically transmitted to the court system and the agency's record management system.
The adoption of advanced technology in law enforcement is generally slow. This is partly due to budgetary, legal and political constraints. Still other agencies delay implementing advanced technology until the solution becomes mature and proven. Agencies that are able to overcome these setbacks are often more agile and better equipped to operate in the 21st century.