From Evidence and Property Management to Mobile Electronic Ticketing, Bar Code Technology Is Driving Down Costs and Boosting Productivity for Police Agencies and Forensic Crime Labs Nationwide
VERNON HILLS, Ill. /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- According to Zebra Technologies (Nasdaq: ZBRA- News), a global leader in delivering on-demand printing solutions for business and process improvement, the law enforcement community in the U.S. has increased its deployment of bar code and automated imaging systems to track information, manage assets, and improve operational efficiency and productivity.
"Public safety agencies are far more technologically savvy than they were just a few years ago," says Clint Rand, Zebra's industry program manager for homeland security and law enforcement. "For law enforcement agencies especially, there has been a fundamental shift from being techno-phobic to techno-centric. As a result, adoption of bar code-based automatic identification and data capture (AIDC) systems has increased rapidly for evidence and property management, code enforcement, traffic control, and security, largely as a result of the reliable software, printing, and scanning solutions that have been recently introduced, which make such systems virtually 'bullet-proof.'"
Standardizing law enforcement processes and procedures using bar code- enabled technology has resulted in both organizational and operational management improvements. According to the Bureau of Justice Assistance, the use of electronic citations can eliminate up to 200 keystrokes of data input per traffic citation, thereby saving time and labor -- in addition to increasing conviction and fine-collection rates. A city in Massachusetts is saving more than $100,000 annually in citation processing costs alone since implementing an electronic system. With respect to evidence and property management, one police department reduced its two-hour average search time looking for the physical location of a given piece of evidence to a mere 15 seconds.
Working with leading software developers in the law enforcement marketplace, Rand notes that Zebra has seen first-hand how an automated evidence and property management system can increase efficiency and reduce administrative time and costs. Agencies using bar code-based e-ticketing systems for traffic violations report increased productivity and officer safety, as well as significantly improved conviction rates because fewer cases are thrown out of court due to erroneous data.
Based on law enforcement market studies, Zebra estimates that almost one- third of police agencies are already using mobile bar code printers and handheld or laptop computers to issue electronic citations for traffic violations. More than one-third are using or planning to use bar code printing and scanning technology to better manage evidence gathered in the field from crime and accident scenes and then document the chain of custody of that evidence throughout its entire life cycle.
In some cases, police agencies are leveraging their AIDC systems to identify and track recovered stolen property, track and store documents and case files, label and track major equipment, and generate staff and visitor identification badges. The use of bar code systems also appears to be growing in the related field of forensic crime lab specimen management.
Law Enforcement Agencies Report Performance Improvements
The Aventura Police Department in Dade County, Florida, recently deployed a mobile electronic citation system with the hope of increasing enforcement rates for moving violations. Previously, with its paper-based ticketing, 10 to 20 percent of violations were unenforceable because of errors or illegible handwriting.
Today, Aventura's traffic control officers are equipped with the intelligent, interactive PocketCitation system from Advanced Public Safety (APS). Officers issue citations quickly and accurately using handheld PDAs and Zebra's compact, Bluetooth-enabled QL420 mobile printers. At the end of their shifts, the ticket data is automatically uploaded into the main computer system. Then, using software from APS, citation records can be automatically transferred from the Aventura PD to the Dade County court computer system. According to Corporal Tom Labombarda, the automated system has eliminated the 20 to 30 hours of overtime a week previously required for manual data entry and processing. "Wireless printing is perfect for our officers and the system is convenient and easy to use. Computerized citation systems will change the way we do business in law enforcement-permanently and for the better," Labombarda concludes.
Zebra Technologies is a global leader in delivering on-demand printing solutions for law enforcement and security process improvement, providing a wide range of desktop and mobile (wireless) thermal bar code printers to satisfy every need in this marketplace.