Breaking the Law's Poor Paper Flow1 Jul, 2005 By: Aaron Shea imageSource
Breaking the Law's Poor Paper Flow
Is it possible for improved
document work flow to make the world a safer place?
That may be a bit of an overstatement, but at the Porter County Sheriff’s Office
in Indiana, a solutions implementation has allowed the department’s more than
150 law enforcement employees to concentrate less on paperwork and more on
serving the community.
The dilemma the sheriff’s department faced was an overwhelming amount of paper
circulating throughout the office. The sheriff’s office needed to manage four
basic types of documents: warrants, case reports, tickets, and jail
As keeper of all the active warrants for the entire county, the sheriff’s office
manages 5,500-plus active warrants. New warrants are received from the county
clerk in batches of 30-50 as much as three times a week.
Case reports are generated every time a deputy responds to an incident. The
average report is 10-12 pages long and contains basic identifying information
and a narrative of the event. The volume of case reports can vary from 15-60 per
The sheriff’s department is also required to store a copy of every ticket
issued. The tickets, at one time, were filed in bundles by ticket number and
classification. With 200-plus tickets issued a week, and a county requirement to
store the tickets for 10 years, finding a requested ticket was a time consuming
endeavor. Additionally, the sheriff’s office needed to manage a ballooning
volume of internal jail records.
Sheriff David Reynolds wanted to leverage technology to free up manpower for
other tasks besides paper processing. The sheriff’s office wanted a system that
would streamline its existing work flow, reduce manual processes, and speed up
the filing and retrieval of documents.
After searching for well over a year, members of the sheriff’s department
attended a seminar presented by Information & Records Associates (IRA), Inc.—a
Value Added Reseller (VAR) based in South Bend, Indiana near the legendary
University of Notre Dame campus. After seeing a detailed demonstration of
DocuWare (www.docuware.com) software, the sheriff’s office had decided that the
program was the right solution to correct its paper problems.
“IRA conducted a fact gathering survey of the sheriff’s department to make sure
we understood the needs and recommended the proper software, modules, scanners
and other hardware required,” explained James Barnbrook, vice president and
sales manager for IRA. “This survey resulted in a justification proposal with a
Return on Investment and recommendation based on the sheriff’s needs.”
Information & Records Associates came up with a solution that included DocuWare,
a software for electronically storing and organizing documents; INTERNET-SERVER,
which allows access to file cabinets worldwide via the Intranet and Internet;
CDMAKER, which allows users to store DocuWare file cabinets on compact disc and
DVD media; and LINK modules, which allows users to integrate documents filed
with DocuWare directly into other existing applications, such as an accounting
or retrieval program.
In addition, the sheriff’s office purchased a file server, CD jukebox server and
four Fujitsu scanners.
From discovery to completed installation, it was a two-year process for IRA,
according to Barnbrook. But the installation itself, behind the strength of four
IRA techs, took a little more than a day and end user training took another
day-and-a-half, Barnbrook said.
The positive results for the sheriff’s office were numerous, including an annual
savings of more than $64,000.
1. Case Reports
Prior to the solution, the commanding officer would send case reports to the
records department and the four-person records staff would spend six hours a day
re-keying the reports into a law enforcement management program.
Now, the records staff scans and manually indexes all of the previous day’s case
reports in less than one hour. Scanning the documents versus re-keying the
information has freed up 12 man-hours a day for the records staff alone. They
are now better able to serve the public by providing copies of accident reports
on demand when a request is made.
In addition, to keep updated on the crime pulse of the county, every morning
each of the six detectives and the captain visited the records room and made a
copy of the previous day’s cases. Now, all of those cases are available
electronically and detectives can now quickly review the new case reports with
the click of a button.
All of the warrants are scanned into DocuWare and indexed by the Warrants
Division. Now, when a warrant verification call comes into the dispatch center,
the dispatchers never need to leave their desks. Once again, with a click of a
button, the warrant can be verified as active and an arrest can be made
immediately. After a warrant has been served or disposed of it is moved to a
separate filing cabinet.
“Warrants and case reports are very time sensitive documents for us. Now, in
less than an hour, the documents are digitally available for quick access by our
detectives and dispatchers,” said Jon Miller, Porter County’s network systems
Speeding tickets are scanned every few weeks. Though the county is still
required to store a paper copy of the ticket, the time savings are seen on the
retrieval side. With only a few basic index fields, retrieval is quick, which
allows the records staff to spend more time performing their core duties.
4. Jail Documentation
With an inmate population of 350, keeping up with the filing of jail records was
a huge task. The jail is actively scanning all of its internal booking forms and
then shredding the paper documents. Because the documents are not time sensitive
and are only accessed by administrative personnel, they are only scanned once a
week. In a four to six-hour block, the week’s booking information is digitized.
The jail is beginning to see the long-term benefits of storing internal
documentation electronically, as file cabinets disappear and more office space
“I knew that if we could realize more efficiency in handling our records and
reporting that my staff could devote more time to serving the people of Porter
County. Implementing DocuWare allowed us to streamline time-intensive
administration tasks and helps prepare us for the next century,” Sheriff
As for Information & Records Associates, just like copier/printer dealers are
experiencing with solutions implementations, the possibility of garnering more
business continues to increase.
“Once our imaging system is in place in one department, it tends to grow to
other departments,” Barnbrook said. “In other words, other offices want to take
advantage of the benefits obtained with imaging, therefore [business] can grow
in steps and even leaps and bounds.”
A VAR’s View
For the first time, a VAR has been featured in a case study in the pages of
imageSource. So we thought it would be interesting to find out from James A.
Barnbrook, vice president/sales manager for Information & Records Associates,
Inc., his thoughts on the ever-vanishing line that once separated VARS from
imageSource: Do you believe solutions sales is a viable service for
copier dealers to provide?
James Barnbrook: Yes and No. Yes in the respect that they have the
technology in the hardware to provide scanning. No, because most copier dealers
are trying to sell the hardware that makes as many copies as possible, since
that is where they make their money—on the supply/service revenue or click
They obviously could learn the software, but will upper management ever get away
from bundling MFPs for the printing revenue along with the software that
attempts to reach the “paperless office” concept? However, it will continue to
be attempted because the copier dealers are the one channel open to the imaging
software companies. Most of the microfilm dealers have already converted to the
digital imaging sales or gotten out of the business.
IS: What is your opinion on copier dealers getting into the software side
of the business?
JB: I wish they wouldn’t, because from what I have seen, they are taking
advantage of an existing customer by selling the technology and some of the
benefits without really knowing what the customer needs to do, and without much
knowledge, and in many cases, the training to support it properly—if at all.
Many times they try to rely on the distributor or the software author to support
it on a question-by-question basis. Actually, the best way for a copier company
to get into the business is to buy or form an alliance with an existing,
successful imaging VAR/dealer.
IS: Do you believe they are a threat to VARs?
JB: Yes. The copier dealers have relationships with many customers who
they would like to leverage into this new venue, and are willing to take a lower
margin on sales to get business. Since sales of copiers are much more
competitive, the margins tend to be much lower than with document imaging
systems, which is heavy on the software side. Therefore, when copier companies
sell imaging software, they tend to go in low against companies like ours that
need to get a higher margin since there is virtually no supply business to help
with the earnings.
IS: Do you believe your company will get into the MFP/printer/copier
business? I’ve heard some people say that VARs entering that side of the
business is inevitable.
JB: No. I really believe it’s almost a conflict of interest. However,
there may be some alliances with local copier dealers to assist each other.