Posts Under: Evidence

September 17, 2013

Do You Have Your Head in the Cloud?

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Do You Have Your Head in the Cloud?Public Safety

Perhaps you should!  There is no doubt that 2012 has been a breakthrough year for cloud computing. We have witnessed a continuous growth curve in terms of adoption that has allowed for the emergence of new and innovative cloud services. Firefighters, police, and emergency workers of all kinds do heavy lifting when it comes to protecting and serving citizens, and in many ways they define modern society’s greatest achievement.  Political sensitivity used to ensure that public safety organizations were the last to feel the budget ax.  But in today’s extreme fiscal climate, these agencies – like the rest of government – are now being forced to do more with less.  This is especially true for police agencies.

Not only does the police force handle sensitive and classified information and evidence internally, but it also needs to be able to pass that information and evidence on to other government agencies. Next to maintaining the privacy of documents, uptime is the most critical factor for the always-working police force. With an around-the-clock schedule, reliability is non-negotiable for the organization. Finally, officers need to be able to access information and communicate with each other from their patrol cars, street corners, or from their desks. A cloud-based system may be the file-sharing solution that would uphold critical security requirements, provide a high level of service to maximize uptime, and be accessible anytime, anywhere.  Officers and support staff could communicate from virtually anywhere through instant messaging, PC-to-PC video calls, or online meetings.

Additionally, the cloud offers continuous data back-ups, disaster recovery capabilities, and globally-redundant data centers, minimizing the risk that the police will ever lose its valuable information.

Document safety, confidentiality, and security are the three biggest concerns for the police. When sharing classified information—such as details about an ongoing investigation—it’s crucial that no one without authorization is able to access files.  Information is often extremely sensitive. A cloud-based system can maintain strict controls around shared documents within the organization with enterprise-grade reliability, strict privacy policies, and multi-layer security against viruses, spam, and phishing attacks, maintaining critical data security.

A private cloud can be used to address the needs of a community that stretches across hundreds of organizational boundaries.  Participants are free to choose what and with whom they share information in secure partitioned environments.  A network would serve as the only law enforcement gateway to Sensitive but Unclassified data on the Intelink intelligence network.

Databases become more valuable as more law enforcement users and organizations can search them.  It would be invaluable to place queries to dozens of state, local and federal databases from a single Web page, greatly simplifying access for police officers and casting a wider net for offenders.  Database owners can specify which users and agencies are authorized to access them, providing peer-level cooperation across organizational boundaries without relinquishing control of their own data.

The most tangible benefits of cloud computer include cost savings, rapid deployment of critical resources, off-site storage and disaster recovery as well as meeting dynamic operational needs, while maintaining the security of systems and the proper use of data.

Police are considering moving more mission-critical applications to the cloud, including those that access Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) data, along with storage, records management, evidence management, crime reporting and mapping and analysis systems.

Following a survey of high-ranking law enforcement professionals from The International Association of Chiefs of Police, Jeff Gould, president of SafeGov and CEO of Peerstone Research states, “Agencies are at the cusp of a broad migration of applications over the next few years.”   The survey found that police agencies expect to use a wider range of cloud applications within the next two years, moving beyond the deployment of e-mail, currently the most popular application in cloud infrastructures.

October 26, 2012

Unprepared for an Audit a Recipe for Embarrassment – Property and Evidence

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Unprepared for a Property and Evidence Audit a Recipe for Embarrassment

Pants on the ground image on Unprepared for an Audit a Recipe for Embarrassment page at Provista

From the perspective of a governmental agency, a well-run property and evidence room saves the jurisdiction money in terms of personnel, space required, liability, and political embarrassment.

No one wants to be caught with their pants down. 

The IAPE website is filled with stories of the fallout from failed audits. This is not a problem limited to smaller cities and counties. The political fallout has hit state agencies, universities, and jurisdictions large and small.

“It doesn’t matter if the inventory is 100 items or 1 million items,” says North Carolina Association of Property and Evidence (NCAPE) President Angela Ashby Shuff. “People are recognizing the importance of a well-managed property and evidence section.”

The process begins with good procedures. “If I were talking with a department revamping or setting up a property and evidence room,” says Wendy Svaren, President of the Oregon Association of Property and Evidence Officers, “I’d tell them of the importance of written policies and procedures starting from the time of seizure until final disposal.”

Knowing what to dispose and when to dispose it is an area where departments often fail audits, according to Joseph Latta, Executive Director of the International Association for Property and Evidence, Inc. Inventory retained when it’s no longer needed ultimately results in newer evidence being improperly stored, or the agency spending the money to expand or lease additional warehouse space. If an auditor walks into the property and evidence room and sees haphazard stacks of boxes and bags, the agency is set up to fail.

When logged evidence cannot be found – especially money, guns, or drugs – the agency is ripe for media scorn and demands for action.

Robust property and evidence management systems from IBM Premier Business Partner Provista make a difference. Provista – Exactly what you had in mind™

October 15, 2012

When Audits Fail, You’re on the 6:00 News, Tracking Property and Evidence

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Property and Evidence Management Systems

When Audits Fail, You’re on the 6:00 News

There are two ways to prepare for an audit. One is to properly manage property and evidence from the beginning, and the other is to react after a failed audit hits the headlines. Property and evidence rooms using effective evidence management techniques are seldom seen or heard. When the system breaks down, everyone hears about it. At that moment, elected officials start hunting for someone to blame.

Leading law enforcement and property and evidence training organizations urge a regular audit of property and evidence facilities. There are good reasons for doing so. Joseph Latta, Executive Officer of the International Association for Property and Evidence (IAPE), recounts one police chief who referred to the job of the property room staff to “just put the crap on the shelves.”

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