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Gainesville police make transition to digital records
Gainesville Police Department’s new digital software has automatic entry of information into reports, known as auto-population. From swiping a driver’s license or running a vehicle tag number, databases will quicken the process when officers file reports from their vehicles.

At the Gainesville Police Department, some of the new school is showing a thing or two to the old school.

With the transition to the digital records management system on Dec. 9, city police trained for months on the new methods compared to old-fashioned penmanship.

“The majority of the officers were able to hit the ground running,” said spokesman Cpl. Kevin Holbrook. “The veterans, who have been here for many, many years, we grew up with pen and paper. ... It was quite different in that you had many of the rookie officers teaching the veterans, where it’s usually vice versa.”

The system allows for a paperless approach that can be approved by an officer’s supervisor in a more expedient time. New officers’ technological abilities make them more comfortable with these new methods, Holbrook said.

“As the new ones come in, they’re of a new generation,” he said. “They’re the technological generation.”

Through the first week of the official rollout, interim Chief Carol Martin said officers are adjusting and getting down to the finer points of the programming.

“What we’re down to now is some procedural issues, because it is a learning curve for all of these officers ... and it’s just a totally new way of doing things,” she said.

Those issues, Martin and Holbrook said, are related to how information is put into the report. When responding to a scene, the officer must place certain information — like incident classification or the type of location — as part of greater crime analysis.

“It’s just a learning curve. If you don’t do this correctly, it’s not going to let you go to (the next thing),” Martin said.

Compared to cranking out report after report by hand, officers can update an existing file in the system, with license readers in the police vehicles adding information automatically to the report.

“We were doing a lot by hand, in fact, more so than probably should have been done as far as a police agency goes,” Holbrook said. “But now the system does it automatically.”

Instead of pages of handwritten criminal analysis mathematics to determine where to send officers for policing, the system can provide better projections in less time.

Officers can write reports through a virtual private network that can be accessed remotely in the field. The only action requiring the officer to return to the station, Martin said, is to download camera footage from body cameras.

The Police to Citizen, P2C, functions are still a few months out, Martin said, with the module needing to be installed and time for training on the system. P2C would allow people to get noncriminal police reports online.