- Creating a more efficient collaboration process
- Ensuring that everyone who needs to sign off on policies has done so
- Making sure that officers have what they need, when they need it
- Simplifying the accreditation process
In years past, law enforcement policies and procedures were printed out and stored in three-ring binders that officers had to lug around or leave in the trunk of their squad car. Any time a policy was updated, new sheets would have to be printed out and replaced in each of those binders.
Now agencies can leave those binders in the past, thanks to policy management software. These digital services contain all of those policies and procedures on the cloud, making them accessible to officers any time, anywhere on a phone, computer, or tablet. Beyond this, they allow administrators to make changes and push those changes out automatically to every user.
The benefit of such software isn’t simply one of convenience, though.
Having good, updated policies and ensuring that all officers are trained in them is key to keeping officers safe in the field and to protecting your agency from liability.
And with some cities and even Congress debating enforcing changes to the way agencies operate, it becomes more crucial to be able to manage policies quickly and effectively.
There are many challenges facing law enforcement, and good policy management software is one solution that helps address several of those problems. In the rest of this article, we’ll explore the importance of such software, the benefits of using it, and the considerations you should make when choosing a software solution for your agency.
Collaborate on workflows
Every law enforcement agency faces its own challenges and has its own structure, and that includes writing new policies or updating existing ones.
As a leader in your agency, you know that you have to oversee a collaboration across multiple people – internal and possibly external stakeholders – which presents a significant logistical hurdle every single time a policy is updated.
This inefficient process takes unnecessary time, and it also introduces the possibility of mistakes being introduced.
One of the key benefits of a good policy management software is that it allows you to collaborate on changes via workflows. Workflows are customizable frameworks that allow administrators to set a routing structure for document review, edits, or approvals, while creating set roles for collaborators.
Track policy signatures and version history
In the event of an incident with one of your officers, one of the first steps of the review process is to look at that officer’s history. Are they up to date on policies and training? The burden is on your agency to prove that the officer was properly trained and knew protocol.
That process becomes significantly easier when you use a policy management tool.
Effective software allows you to immediately access the complete history of any individual user to see whether that person reviewed, signed off on, or was tested on your agency’s policies.
This audit trail of electronic signatures also allows you to run reports to see if any of your officers have yet to complete requirements related to policies.
Doing so helps to protect your agency from liability in the event that something does go wrong.
Save money on overtime training
Training is an integral part of any law enforcement agency. But if every single time you make an update to policies and procedures you have to gather your officers for in-person training, you’re going to be pulling them away from their day-to-day work – and potentially paying a lot in overtime costs.
To avoid paying more than is needed in overtime training, you can look for policy management software that offers virtual training tools.
With those tools in hand, you can create and distribute electronic training courses to your officers. And then you can track their progress and even test them on it, to ensure everyone has completed and understands the required training.
This takes a complex, potentially expensive process and makes it far simpler – and cheaper.
Give officers reliable access to policies and training
When your officers are out in the field facing dangerous and unpredictable situations, the last thing they want to do is pull out a binder to search for a policy. They need fast answers, and they need to find those answers easily.
While there are a variety of cloud-based hosting platforms that you could use for your documents, not all of those have a robust smart search function.
It’s crucial when choosing your policy management software to find one with smart search, which scans complete documents to find the best policy related to your keyword search.
Beyond that, you also need one that’s reliable. That means accessing your documents any time, anywhere, from any device. Anything short of that, and your officers could be left in a challenging situation without the information they need.
Map policies to accreditation standards
Law enforcement agencies are increasingly turning to accreditation as a means to best serve their communities.
The process of accreditation typically begins with a self assessment. This can be an exhaustive survey of your agency’s history and policies and procedures. If those documents exist only on paper, that requires sorting and scanning numerous files – a significant cost in time.
You also have to check whether your policies even match accreditation standards.
Fortunately, some policy management software comes with accreditation standards already included. This lets you intelligently link your policies and procedures to accreditation standards. With that in hand, proving that you’ve met the accreditation standards is a snap.
Many challenges, one solution
Managing your agency’s policies and procedures is a Herculean task. But it doesn’t have to be.
While law enforcement policy software can be a great solution, make sure you find one that fits all of your needs. The key features are:
- Friction-less collaboration
- Signature tracking
- Electronic training
- Reliable access
- Smart search
- Accreditation standards linking
A solution that offers those features, such as the PowerDMS policy management software, can reduce your workload, save on overtime costs, and help protect your agency from liability. And it sure beats those three-ring binders.
View more on the subject in our comprehensive guide to policy management in law enforcement.