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Partnerships can empower law enforcement agencies to operate more effectively than they can on their own. Being able to work collaboratively on cases that cross jurisdictional boundaries, require specialized competencies or otherwise require cross-agency interaction can eliminate many of the gaps that exist in the execution of law enforcement. Furthermore, effective collaboration can enable different law enforcement agencies to specialize relative to their localized needs and maximize their resources.

While these fruits of cross-agency cooperation – even in something as simple as sharing suspect records – are exciting, there are also many pitfalls that come with such efforts, particularly in terms of document and policy management. A few key policy and documentation issues that must be addressed when law enforcement agencies work together include:

1. Establishing data sharing policies
Law enforcement agencies face a wide range of regulatory guidelines pertaining to how they handle data, particularly information about suspects and persons of interest in cases. All of this data needs to be protected to ensure personal privacy for the innocent, but being able to share it lawfully between agencies can empower collaboration.

On one hand, you don’t want employees freely moving information across jurisdictional boundaries, potentially falling prey to phishing schemes or otherwise creating a regulatory breach. On the other hand, you can’t afford to have your officers sitting back, waiting days or even weeks to gain access to key information pertaining to a case.

Creating clear policies for data sharing between agencies and training employees to understand and follow them is essential. An electronic, cost-efficient document management system empowers your leaders to establish policy measures, distribute them through a web-based app and streamline internal compliance processes.

2. Training your workers
Creating policies is only the first step in supporting cooperation between law enforcement agencies. You also need to make sure officers genuinely understand those best practices and are equipped to follow them consistently. It isn’t enough to just front load training onto your collaboration initiative and hope employees remember everything as long as the relationship continues. This is another area where document management software pays off, as leading solutions provide web-based quizzes, policy distribution measures and even regulatory modules that make it easier to update policies relative to regulatory documents. All of these features come together to streamline training processes, empowering you to maintain the best practices that surround inter-agency collaboration efforts.

3. Creating common documentation platforms
In many cases, law enforcement agencies have files spread out over multiple locations, sometimes with a mix of paper and digital assets and with significant clerical challenges trying to manage all of these documents and records. Now throw in needing to share information with another agency, with its own unique records management practices, and you are looking at a logistical nightmare.

A cost-efficient document management system can put all relevant documents into a web-based app, give leaders the ability to manage permissions and distribution lists according to the parameters of the partnership and create a centralized repository for the various files that collaborating agencies share.

Inter-agency cooperation isn’t always easy to manage, but advanced document management systems simplify processes and empower organizations to collaborate effectively.