Organizations, businesses, and institutions across the nation are going green. Law enforcement agencies are no exception—police departments, in particular, are finding innovative ways to become more energy efficient, such as switching to battery-operated freeway flares or even upgrading their vehicles to hybrid models. While much environmentally friendly emphasis falls to more efficient law enforcement gadgetry, most organizations are also wasting a very basic resource: paper. Tracker Products’ paperless evidence management systems can help combat this ecological dilemma. Our SAFE (Shared Archive For Evidence) software makes it easy to store, access, interpret, and investigate important case information using computers and mobile devices. In the following blog, we explain why you should go paperless and how Tracker Products can help.
Paper Waste By the Numbers
Forest Ethics, a conservationist organization, published a piece entitled “The Facts – Paper Consumption and Its Impacts.” The report highlights the following facts:
- “North American still consumes more paper per capita—upwards of 500 lbs. annually—than anyone else on earth.”
- Even with recycling and reuse initiatives in place, the paper industry contributed to 26 million tons of solid waste in landfills in 2009 alone. This translates to 16 percent of all solid waste in landfills. Forest Ethics also points out: “When paper decomposes in a landfill, it releases methane, a greenhouse gas 23 times more potent than carbon dioxide.”
- “Paper production is the third most energy-intensive of all manufacturing industries, using over 12 percent of all energy in the industrial sector. The paper and pulp industry is also the fourth largest emitter of greenhouse gasses in the manufacturing sector.”
Similarly, The World Counts (a site to raise awareness about preservation issues) explains: “42 percent of all global wood harvest is used to make paper….[paper] accounts for…33 percent of municipal waste…[and] 324 liters of water is used to make 1 kilogram of paper.”
Paper Use in Police Departments
Excessive paper usage is an undeniable environmental issue in every industry, but especially in document-heavy fields like law enforcement. In his Police magazine article, “Saving Green by Going Green,” Ronnie Garrett details the various ways agencies can become more sustainable, including “saving trees.” He provides an example: “The Hammonton (N.J.) Police Department, like many departments across the country, had a paper problem.” The HPD had some unfortunate dispatch habits—it printed out “every national and local broadcast message” from the “National Crime Information Center (NCIC)” on a separate piece of paper. Garrett explains the environmental and financial cost of this monumental waste: “over the course of a year, this amounted to approximately 90,000 sheets of paper (18 cases at a cost of $595) and nine toner cartridges (a cost of $990).”
These stunning statistics paint only a partial picture of the average police department’s paper waste. Police One magazine emphasizes the environmental impact of evidence: “the ‘old way’ of managing evidence is almost always paper-based, and starts when an officer collects a piece of evidence at a crime scene.” After manually tagging and logging it, the offer must attach “a handwritten evidence report…with a copy attached to the case report.” This outdated process squanders time, effort, and paper.
A SAFE Solution
- Track digital and physical data side by side
- Author customized reports
- Complete system audits to find and correct inaccuracies
- Send files between staff members while adhering to a clear Chain of Custody
- Access key files and information
- Tag and archive evidence with barcode technology
- Input digital images by simply dragging and dropping them within the system
- Take digital signatures as needed
- Easily and efficiently view evidence, charts, messages, and more from a simple, intuitive dashboard
- Store and search images, reports, agency overviews, and the like with the click of a button or the swipe of a finger
- Customize its functions according to your specific needs and preferences
- Remember review dates and other deadlines with automatic alerts
SAFE does all of this while eliminating the need for paper tags, logs, reports, notes, copies, or files. In this way, SAFE allows users to make evidence management both paperless and more productive.
Are You Ready to Go Green?
If you need a more environmentally friendly, efficient, effective evidence management system, look no further than SAFE. Contact us today to learn more or sign up for a free trial of our paperless product.