Document Locator helps Manatee County Sheriff’s Office fight crime
Paper-based police reports difficult and time-consuming to store and access.
Fifteen-mile commute to record storage location eliminated, faster access to case reports, and improved adherence to state emergency procedures.
The Manatee County Sheriff’s Office is located in west central Florida’s county seat of Bradenton. Manatee County is made up of 741 square miles and has a population of approximately 313,000. The Sheriff’s Office is responsible for all unincorporated areas of the county. There are over 1,100 employees at the Sheriff’s Office with 600 of those being sworn deputies in law enforcement and corrections.
Needed: faster access to case reports
Manatee County Sheriff’s Office handles about 65,000 cases a year with each report averaging 20 pages. Hoping to provide faster access to case reports, the Sheriff’s Office decided to convert its paper police reports to digital records, so the staff purchased scanning software. Computer technician Rob Hoagland was assigned the job of making the new system work. He soon discovered many drawbacks to the product.
“I worked with it for about a month,” says Hoagland. “We had to set up a second repository within our system but we could never get it to work. In addition, the installation of users was very labor intensive and training was a problem. The learning curve was high. Overall, the product was complicated and difficult to use.”
Finding a user-friendly alternative
Rob began looking for a better solution. When he was introduced to Document Locator, he immediately saw its potential. “We set it up on a small system to test it and began scanning documents.”
When he saw how well the scanning was working, he knew he had found a solution, and implemented Document Locator immediately. “We decided to just start saving the documents to the Records Department to save us time later,” he says.
When put to real-world use, Document Locator met his expectations.
“The product worked just like it did in the demonstration. It was easy to install—in an hour or so you had your clients up and running. And there was almost no learning curve for the users. It’s very straightforward.”
And since Manatee County Sheriff’s Office was already running Microsoft SQL Server, the transition to Document Locator was seamless.
The result: efficient records storage
Before the records were converted from paper to digital, Manatee Child Services regularly had to travel 15 miles to the downtown main office to get access to case records. Now the Records department scans cases at night and has them ready for officers to access the next morning, thus eliminating time-consuming trips and processing delays.
Soon: easier compliance with State regulations
With hurricanes being a regular occurrence in Florida, the sheriff’s office must follow certain emergency procedures to protect its documents. State regulations require that the Records department move records from the past seven years to a secure location whenever a hurricane threatens the area.
In this, Document Locator will provide another benefit to the Records department: per State law, once archived records have been scanned into Document Locator, the Records department will only be required to move one year of records—a valuable time-saver, especially during an emergency.
The future: more efficient case management
Manatee County Sheriff’s Office plans to more fully use Document Locator’s features in the near future. They are currently automating some of their business processes using Document Locator’s automated workflow feature to help the department track cases more easily. They are also making case reports available to district attorneys via WebTools, Document Locator’s optional Web access module, giving the district attorneys remote access to case records.
“We used to have to compile all the reports for the DAs and send them out. It took one or two days. Now they will have immediate access to them,” says Hoagland.