Report Writing Software

By Dees, Tim | Law & Order, December 2001 | Go to article overview

Report Writing Software


Dees, Tim, Law & Order


DOWN LOAD

One of the common factors with both large and small law enforcement agencies is they both have to create reports that are crucial to the department's mission. The tools used to complete these reports run from pencil and paper to computers, with the high tech option receiving more emphasis in recent years. Any word processor can be used to create reports, but there is a lot of utility lost when the user is limited to this software.

Reports are far more easily completed and are more useful when the information contained in them is incorporated into a database. Common elements between cases (addresses, people, methods of entry, etc.) are more quickly located and compared, and duplication of effort is minimized.

Most "office suite" applications include both a word processor and a database. Setting them up so data will move back and forth seamlessly and automatically is a long and pitfall-- ridden process. Large agencies can afford the cost of report writing packages that bring these features together, but smaller outfits don't usually have the resources for this software and are left using the most basic tools.

Xpediter Patrol C/S is a software package that will serve a law enforcement agency of any size. The software is remarkably full-featured, can be configured for standalone or networked operation, and offers a purchase option tailored for smaller departments that can fit within most budgets.

Xpediter uses a relational database. Relational databases pull information from multiple lists or tables, and reduce the amount of duplicative data entry and storage space required for the information. Addresses need to be entered only once. After that, a List button will display all addresses entered into a case and can be selected without having to re-type the data. A built-in zip code database will auto-fill the city and state associated with an entered postal code.

Charge information is more accurate with the use of a Penal Code Search table. The user enters a section number or code and the system does an automatic search on the database to find a match. If one is found, it auto-fills the statute title description field, charge level and associated UCR/NIBRS code field.

Institution components allow the user to select commonly entered institutions such as tow companies, hospitals or schools through drop-down lists. Selection of an institution will auto-fill the related fields to this entry (address, phone, etc.). Once a person, business, vehicle or item of property has been entered on a form, these case elements can easily be added to other forms on the case with a Select button.

An Implicit Add ability is a valuable data entry time-saver when entering information for repeat offenders or businesses. The system conducts an auto-search on people, businesses, vehicles and items of property every time one of these case elements is entered onto a form. If a match is found, the officer simply selects that case element and all of the pertinent data fields are auto-filled and ready for editing.

A feature called Dynamic Forms improves the appearance of printed reports and reduces the amount of paper required. The forms will expand or contract according to the data entered in the case. Most agencies use an incident form that contains a limited amount of space for case elements. They then use supplemental forms for additional people, vehicle, or property.

For instance, a crime report might include a face sheet that contains space for two suspect names and descriptions. …

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