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Tribal Law Enforcement Document Management: An Action Plan for Better Public Safety

Managing public safety on tribal lands is a difficult task. Between jurisdictional problems, budget constraints and the paper-based world of incident reports, witness statements and other documents, tribal law enforcement agencies face challenges in resolving crimes on tribal lands. Many of these challenges are shared by law enforcement everywhere, but the jurisdictional issues are unique to tribal government, and it complicates your ability to protect your tribal communities.

To illustrate, how would you handle this scenario?

A person is found on tribal lands, alleging assault, showing bruises. As a tribal law enforcement officer, you will take a statement and ask a critical question, who did this? The officer will then work up a description and could be confronted with the difficulties of conflicting jurisdictions. If the perpetrator is known but is not a tribal member, the tribal law enforcement officer may have no jurisdiction to pursue the alleged perpetrator.

This is not an uncommon problem anywhere where there are conflicting jurisdictions, but usually, it is federal vs. state, not side-by-side jurisdictions that continue to face challenges when crimes cross borders and involve tribal and non-tribal members. Unfortunately, no software can fully solve this legal and historical dilemma, but as you move forward to create the infrastructure for the safety of tribal members and your tribal justice system, tribal Tribal Enterprise Document Management can help.

Many public safety and courts system use Document Management (also called Enterprise Content Management) to manage the incredible volumes of paper generated during the investigative and judicial phases of their criminal justice effort. There are many reasons why Document Management makes sense for law enforcement and courts. First, it eliminates the costs and staff time associated with paper files. By going paperless, a central and secure storage archive is used that can be accessed from any location or courtroom. And, should investigations cross jurisdictions, you can easily and securely share files to make the investigation more effective. Saving costs in this way lets you redirect your budget to additional officers and better equipment and investigations.

Paper has been such a centerpiece of law enforcement that it may be hard to imagine going paperless, but leveraging Document Management can be a tremendous help in jurisdiction issues and collaboration with other law enforcement entities.

So, how can you craft a plan to use Document Management and improve your law enforcement effort?

A Shared Tribal Law Enforcement Document Management Solution

First, join in a Document Management solution that is shared with other tribal government agencies or propose sharing a Document Management solution – other tribal organizations have already used Document Management to save staff time and costs. If your tribe is using Document Management, you can join in to share costs while learning from your colleagues, or, if you are not using Document Management, offer to be a part of an enterprise system [like Oneida Nation’s] to share costs and benefits.

Digitally Store Content, Reports, and Evidence

Then, using Document Management, store content, reports and evidence digitally – the real benefit of Document Management is its ability to secure the documents, video, photos, reports and other documents that will be created as an investigation gets underway. With digital incident files, it’s easier for field work and to pass files on to courts when it is time for adjudication. And, should an investigation need to be turned over to another agency, or if you need to cooperate with another investigative entity, files can be shared easily or worked jointly.

Document Management File Sync and Share

Finally, leverage enterprise file sync and share for secure file collection and transfer – gathering large files like security footage and providing a place for other investigators to pick up or share files that provide an audit trail, security, and ease of use thanks to a web-based interface. This sharing capability helps you avoid loss of documents and manages large files while letting you know when files have been accessed by other users.

Document Management helps you leave behind paper files that absorb staff time, raise your costs and create duplicate efforts. Because Document Management can offer digital incident files, you have better access to officers in the field, you have secured files, and you can easily share files with other jurisdictions if you need to. As you look to expand or continue your law enforcement efforts, reducing costs and becoming more efficient means that you can continuously improve the safety of your tribal members and with Document Management, you can embrace a proven solution that can help you conquer jurisdictional issues too.

More information on how Tribes are using OnBase Document Management.

About Matt Hein

Matt is a Strategic Account Executive with a background in finance and strategic business management. He has proactively advised and directed various organizations while working with the business community and Local and Tribal Government in an effort to build long-term strategic relationships related to Content Services. Outside of work, Matt enjoys being on the Executive Committee of Madison Festivals (Madison Marathon and Taste of Madison), an active member of St. Dennis School and Parish, and anything related to outdoor activities.

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