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In the realm of law enforcement, evidence is king. As such, one of the highest priorities for law enforcement agencies is to protect that evidence accurately, efficiently, and with a minimal margin of error.

“There isn't law enforcement without evidence,” insists Kim Webley, President and CEO of FileOnQ. “Everything starts and ends with evidence and one of the most common reasons chiefs, sheriffs, and other law enforcement executives lose their jobs is because evidence is mishandled.”

All-in-one records management systems (RMS) have been useful in helping law enforcement agencies catalogue evidence to date. By and large, however, those systems have not kept pace with the complexities that today's agencies must contend with throughout their chain of custody. Certainly, as the technical nature of evidence has evolved, so too have the challenges of collecting, tracking, and protecting it throughout its lifecycle.

“There are a lot of great RMS systems out there designed to manage all the records management needs of a case. They do that job very well, but they were never really built for managing evidence,” suggests says Steve Englund, Sales, Application Analysis with FileOnQ, explaining, “They have a way to catalogue evidence, and you can attach a list of evidence associated with a case, but RMS architecture does not enable users to account for all the advanced security, data collection, and reporting functions to provide the integrity to provide the defensible source of truth required for evidence management.”

Accurately cataloguing evidence is certainly critical. Still, it's the first link in a vital chain of custody that can make or break a case. From the moment a piece of evidence is collected all the way through the chain of custody to the final disposition, today's systems must be built to the highest standard of integrity to ensure the judicial process can proceed and justice is correctly and efficiently delivered. 

“Evidence management programs need to fully protect agencies against the common risks resulting in dismissed cases, liability exposure, loss of public trust, ineffective policing efforts, and management inefficiencies,” says Webley.

In recent years, the industry leading RMS vendors have helped their customers mitigate these risks by working with dedicated evidence management solutions such as FileOnQ. These dedicated solutions are built from the ground up in collaboration with on staff and nationwide evidence management subject experts. The advantage of these is that they offer more features and greater efficiencies, require reporting and security capabilities, and provide better integration with existing systems and evidence sources than standard RMS evidence modules.

Says Englund, “It's about being able to manage data more effectively, take in data and information from any source, identify errors and anomalies throughout the evidence management process, and always make sure you're meeting all the legal requirements you need to maintain a defensible chain of custody.”

Moreover, Webley adds, evidence management application like FileOnQ's own EvidenceOnQ are designed to integrate seamlessly into existing RMS systems: “When you have systems that play well with other technologies and systems, that ultimately benefits law enforcement and the communities they serve.”

The ability to fully customize a user's evidence management tools is another advantage to applications like EvidenceOnQ. So too is the ability to extract important pieces of data and create complex reports much faster than the more basic evidence “tracking” modules.

“Ad hoc reporting is extremely important for evidence management,” notes Sreedar Kata, Senior Engineer with FileOnQ. “When auditors come in, for example, sometimes it takes them days to pull reports from a standard RMS system – if they can produce them at all – whereas with dedicated applications they can obtain those reports within minutes.”

RMS systems are, and will continue to be, essential to law enforcement operations. However, as the demands for more accurate, flexible, and efficient evidence management grow, it's applications like EvidenceOnQ that will enable agencies to move forward with a greater level of accuracy, reliability, and accountability.

“In the end, a good system is one that helps a department do its job, save its money, and be accountable to the public. That's something this technology offers to everyone's benefit,” adds Webley.

Kim Webley (President and CEO), Steve Englund (Product Manager), and Sreedhar Kata (Senior Engineer) are with FileOnQ, a public safety software platform. Other applications specifically for public safety include; Quartermaster, Personnel & Training, Digital & Body Cam Management. For more, visit www.fileonq.com.


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