Alabama police departments go paperless

January 6, 2009

By Chris Vessell bio | email

VALLEY, AL (WTVM) - Public safety is going paperless. A new mandate that took effect January 1st requires police departments in Alabama to file police reports electronically. It could help pinpoint crime trend.

Valley law enforcement officers say simply keeping track of crime can actually prevent it. "It helps us in law enforcement to know where the trends are going and what they need to focus on as far as enforcement," Maj. Mike Reynolds, Valley Police said.

Prior to this year, reports would often cause delays in collecting crime data. "Their hand writing may not be the best so you'd have to interpret what you'd have to say. If they made mistakes they'd have to go back and write things out" Reynolds said.

Now, the state requires officers to file the information electronically into what's called the Ultra System. The result is that local departments, the FBI, and state officials have almost instant access to arrest and incident reports.

In addition to Ultra System, Valley Police implemented new software called E-Site several months ago that helps them file traffic citations electronically.  According to one officer we spoke to, it helps officers keep their eyes on offenders.

"My eyes are still kind of up if I'm looking at the screen all I have to do is glance back to the person in front of me and to the car. You always have to be aware," Sgt. Josh Procise, a Valley police officer said.

Now with the addition of Ultra System, Valley Police cars are completely paperless. "It's going to take some getting used to for everybody.  It shoudl become a little more routine and really efficient," said Procise.

Valley Police say they're also in the process of acquiring a computer aided dispatch that will allow them to monitor 911 dispatches from their computers.