Continually updating and improving policies and procedures is an essential part of keeping any law enforcement agency running smoothly. It helps staff do their jobs properly, while minimizing risks for officers, the agency and the community. But policy changes are meaningless if officers never see the updates. It’s imperative for agencies to have a reliable process for sending out new or updated policies and making sure personnel read and understand them.

A recent study conducted by PowerDMS and the Police Foundation found that when it comes to conveying policy changes to personnel, 98 percent of law enforcement agencies send out a new general order or standard operating procedure. Sixty-three percent of agencies said they have used a software tool to disseminate policy changes, and 35 percent said they would consider using a software tool or plan to use one in the future.

Technology has made updating and disseminating policies much easier and more reliable. Here are a few reasons your department should use policy management software to ensure officers are aware of policy changes:

Easy dissemination

Sending out a general order or standard operating procedure—even a digital, emailed version—can get complicated. Administrators have to track down email addresses, and it can be easy to overlook someone or send the policy to the wrong person.

With a policy management software like PowerDMS, sending out policy updates to every member of staff is as simple as clicking a button, and administrators have complete control over who can access each policy.

Secure access to all policies in one place

If department administrators send out paper or emailed standard operating procedures, officers may lose track of the updated version. In the PowerDMS study, only 61 percent of agencies reported issuing a whole new policy manual after adding a new policy. This could leave officers referring to a manual that has missing or outdated policies.

A policy management software gives administrators complete version control and houses all policies in a central location that officers can instantly access from anywhere on any computer or mobile device.

Proof that every officer read and understood updated policies

Ninety-two percent of the law enforcement agencies surveyed for the PowerDMS study indicated that their agency requires personnel to sign new policies. Using technology to gather signatures is much simpler and more reliable than collecting signatures of a piece of paper. A policy management software like PowerDMS sends out automatic reminders to officers who haven’t signed new policies and can alert supervisors if an officer doesn’t sign off within a few weeks. It also provides reports including timestamps showing when each officer read and signed the policy, which protects the agency in the event of an audit or court case. PowerDMS’s test function provides further accountability by testing officers’ understanding of policies.

Technology is the most reliable way for your agency to manage, distribute and track policies and procedures. As your agency adapts and improves policies, use a policy management software to ensure your officers read, understand and sign off on policy changes.

To see more interesting trends in technology, click here to download the full State of Policy in Law Enforcement report.