Wireless system helps Colo. police protect families

Wireless system helps Colo. police protect families

Department analyzed ways it handled domestic violence cases then developed a 'holistic approach'

By Trudy Walsh

GCN Staff

Domestic violence cases in Lakewood, Colo., used to get bogged down in the criminal justice system for weeks. Now, thanks to a process mapping system that the Lakewood Police Department developed with Motorola Inc., domestic violence cases are resolved in one or two days, officials said.

Process mapping is a three-step procedure, said police Capt. Al Youngs, director of the project mapping team. In 1995 the department created an as-is flowchart to illustrate how it handled domestic violence cases. Then it created a should-be chart detailing how it ought to handle such calls. Finally, it created a could-be chart of how the department could routinely handle the cases if it had the required resources.

Lakewood police use what they call process mapping to track and investigate domestic violence incidents.

The as-is assessment turned up three areas of concern. First, it showed that responding officers needed more information. Second, it revealed that domestic violence cases had a low rate of prosecution. And it found that victims needed more and better services.

Armed with this information, the team set about streamlining data collection and working to improve prosecution rates and victim advocacy.

The department developed what Jefferson County District Attorney Dave Thomas called 'a holistic approach' to law enforcement. With process mapping, those who participate in one part of the process'from police intervention to prosecution to victim services'can see what the other parts do.

'Process mapping really helped us see the big picture,' Youngs said. 'We can see the relationship between detectives, police, attorneys and victim advocates.'

Wireless pick

The department uses several database and wireless products in its war against domestic violence. Its computer-aided dispatch system runs on an Escala D204 server from Bull HN Information Systems Inc. of Billerica, Mass. Written in Unix with Pick, a relational database, the dispatch system sends data along with information on alerts over a wireless PacketCluster system from Cerulean Technology of Marlborough, Mass., to officers' notebook PCs.

Officers can write reports on their notebooks in the field, said Ingrid Dorgan, senior programmer analyst with the Lakewood Information Technology Department. Using PacketCluster, officers can send their reports to the Lakewood Automated Reporting System.

Officers can also look up names, addresses and other reports on LARS.

Youngs said domestic violence calls are the most dangerous kind of duty for police officers. FBI statistics for 1996 showed that more than 14,000 officers were attacked while responding to such calls.


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