Numbers at a glance:
52 Commissioned Officers, 10 Civilians, 16 Square Miles, 47,540 Population Served, WASPC Accredited
The administrators at Lacey Police Department, including Administrative Commander Joe Upton, were using a paper-based system for managing the department’s important documents.
This made updating and distributing policies complicated and time-consuming. When a new policy rolled out, Upton and the other administrators would send it around in a three-ring binder with a sign-off sheet. This sign-off process could take months. Sometimes the binder went missing, taking the record of signatures with it. This left Upton and Lacey PD’s leadership unsure of whether every one of Lacey’s 52 sworn officers had the information they needed to protect themselves and the community. Plus, with the paper-based system, even if every officer read and signed off on the initial policy, there was no quick way for them to reference specific policies while in the field.
Lacey PD also had a complex, paper-based system for Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs (WASPC) accreditation. When it came time to prepare for the re-accreditation survey, Upton would recruit a sergeant and two of the department’s civilian records staff to sort through all the paperwork. The team would spend weeks digging up documents, highlighting policies and standards, labeling papers with tabs and sticky notes, and organizing files in cardboard boxes.
Training also put unnecessary drains on department resources. Police departments in Washington state are mandated to provide at least 24 hours of training for each commissioned officer. Lacey PD used to provide four separate classroom sessions to accommodate all the officers’ different shifts. The department spent thousands of dollars on overtime pay just to make sure officers got the bare minimum of state-required training hours. Upton and the other leaders knew there had to be a better way.
“Instead of just getting the bare minimum of training—24 hours a year—we take the money we save [through PowerDMS] and offer additional training we wouldn’t have been able to offer. Last year, our officers were able to do 100 hours of training.”
Joe Upton - Administrative Commander, Lacey Police Department
Lacey Police Department adopted PowerDMS in 2008, first using the policy management function and later adding accreditation and training.
PowerDMS allows Upton and Lacey’s administrative team to quickly revise policies whenever case law changes or other updates are needed. Once a policy is updated, administrators can send it out to the entire department, collect electronic signatures and see the complete document history. Instead of policy updates and sign-offs taking months, they can get done in a matter of minutes.
With PowerDMS, officers can access policies from anywhere on any mobile device, easily searching keywords if they find themselves in a tricky situation. Upton says this is especially helpful for policies such as dealing with a suspect that has tuberculosis. Since it’s a rare situation, officers may not remember the details of the policy in the moment, but it’s very important for them to handle the incident correctly. PowerDMS enables them to quickly reference the policy so they can stay safe.
Upton says PowerDMS streamlines Lacey PD’s WASPC accreditation process. Instead of sorting through boxes of paper files, he can view the standards, digitally highlight important passages, and upload electronic files to make all the paperwork organized and easily accessible in PowerDMS’s accreditation tool. This allows him to do most of the work himself instead of having to bring in additional help from the records staff.
Lacey PD has also simplified training by moving state-mandated training courses to PowerDMS. Training instructors simply upload PowerPoints to PowerDMS, which allows officers to complete training on their own time rather than having to gather in a classroom. PowerDMS provides Upton and other administrators with a detailed record of when each officer completes the mandatory training.
Using online training through PowerDMS saves Lacey PD roughly $4,800 each year in overtime pay, or about 10 percent of the department’s training budget.
Lacey PD now uses this money to offer additional training. Instead of just providing the state-mandated minimum of 24 hours of training each year, Lacey is able to offer up to 100 hours of training. This allows the department to invest in the career development of their officers, sending officers to specialized training such as crime scene investigation classes.
Upton has also used PowerDMS to save Lacey PD about 80 hours in staff time that used to go into preparing for re-accreditation. By not having to recruit staff hours from the records department, Upton saves the department about $2,000 in administrative costs, all while making his job much easier. He also estimates that PowerDMS helps him complete his WASPC accreditation files two months earlier than he used to.
Upton is also an accreditation mentor for another law enforcement agency seeking WASPC accreditation four hours north of Lacey. This agency is also using PowerDMS to manage their assessment electronically. If this agency was still using the old paper process, Upton would have to drive back and forth to check in on the agency’s progress, charging gas, food and hotel costs to their agency. However, since the agency has PowerDMS, Upton was able to log in, view the files and provide feedback without leaving his desk, saving valuable time and money.