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More Efficient Case Management and Distribution


Crawford Technologies recently worked with a suburb of Los Angeles nestled at the eastern end of the San Fernando Valley. Its Police Department oversees 23 square miles and assures the public safety of almost 210,000 residents. It is comprised of four divisions: Investigative, Field, Support, and Administrative Services.

The Challenge

Administrative Services includes the Records Bureau which is responsible for managing case files. A case file, created when a crime has been reported, is assembled as incremental documents arrive. Each case file is comprised of documents in disparate formats such as police reports,finger print files, witness statements, lists and photos from crime scene investigators, DNA records and possibly court dockets, jail bookings and arrest records. It will contain both scanned documents and electronic source documents.

As the investigation process proceeds, case file documents need to be reviewed and studied by various departments and individuals involved with the case. Some departments that may be involved are Probation, the District Attorney’s office, the Clerks of Courts, and various Investigative Officers. Case files also need to be sent to the defense attorneys associated with each case. Most agencies are within the city government; but, on occasion, outside agencies such as California Highway Patrol (CHP), Family Services / Child Services, or even the FBI may be involved.

Whenever new content is added to a case file, the Records Bureau is required to distribute a marked copy of the updated case file to each of the departments and agencies involved with the investigation and/or case management of the individuals associated with the crime. An especially burdensome requirement is that each copy must carry the unique watermark of the receiving party.

In the past, the frequency of changes and the large number of departments and agencies created a clerical burden for the Bureau’s staff. Each case file can go to a dozen or more departments and agencies and run to a hundred or more pages, each of which previously were being hand stamped. Investigative support service is required on a 24/7 basis which meant that clerical staff had to be maintained on all three shifts, further adding to the city’s costs.

The Solution

Originally, the process had been a manual process involving printing, copying, collating, hand stamping and the use of couriers. The process was excessively time consuming and required maintaining high levels of staffing on all three shifts to meet the court deadlines for getting the case files to the parties involved.

Crawford Technologies Riptide was deployed to automate the distribution of case files stored in the IBM FileNet Content Manager repository. Seamlessly integrated with the ECM platform for output management, in this case management application, Riptide provides a number of value-added functions. The unique watermark on each copy serves as a defacto separator sheet as it eliminates copying, collating and hand stamping. The time saved in the process eliminates the need for couriers and excess staffing.

The process starts when an automated email is sent to the Records Bureau informing them that new content has been added to a case file. The Records Bureau agent accesses the IBM FileNet Content Manager repository using IBM’s Workplace interface. Using search templates based on the case number, documents in the case file are automatically retrieved. Using the multi-select menu, the Records Bureau agent simply selects ‘Riptide’ as the output for the retrieved documents. Then a custom screen presents the document list. Here the agent is able to re-order the documents, select the number of copies and, for each copy, select the target output and required watermark from a pull-down menu. Riptide automates the rest of the output management process.

The deployment of the CrawfordTech Riptide automated process not only saves time; it also provides error tracking, logging and a record of case files sent.

The Results

In the words of the city’s project manager “the Riptide solution made all the difference, changing ‘days and hours’ of work into ‘minutes and seconds’” as the tasks of copying, collation, and hand stamping were eliminated. One of the key results was that staff were able to be reallocated to more productive tasks.

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