After multiple rounds of drafting, review and signoff, you’ve finally got your department’s policies ready to share with your officers. Now comes the process of disseminating the procedures—either manually or using policy software for police departments—to ensure staff across the department have access to and understand the most up-to-date version of the policies.
Unfortunately, many departments still rely on sharing the latest versions of policies through paper printouts or outdated software systems that are little more than clunky digital filing cabinets. Without a solid system in place, many departments end up with gaps in knowledge, or, worse yet, officers enforcing policies differently across the organization.
We’re here to offer some suggestions for how best-in-class technology can assist police departments in ensuring all officers are on the same page (literally) when it comes to policy.
Here are five must-haves for modern policy software for police we’ve learned from our work with police departments:
Let’s be practical. When officers are on patrol or in the field, they’re not going to have ready access to their desktop to look up a policy. When in a critical situation, the last thing you want is for an officer to be scrolling on a poorly-designed site looking for a policy to reference.
Esper’s Policy Library is mobile-responsive, meaning it’s easy for officers to quickly find policies while in the field.
2) Institutional knowledge
Once you publish a new version of a policy, what happens to the prior versions? We recommend keeping them neatly organized side by side, so it’s clear to understand the latest version of the policy, as well as the past versions for easy reference.
Many of the police departments we speak with are FOIA’d or in need of finding prior policy versions. Having a library that tracks past and present versions of a policy makes this much simpler.
3) Automatic notifications
Officers should be alerted when new policies are released, and encouraged to review, sign off and even provide feedback on the policies. Esper’s software offers both back-end and front-end support here. This means that you can publish a policy to your department’s policy library and notify your officers easily within the system.
You can select how your team is notified when a policy changes and even set up alerts on policies that you want to pay special attention to.
4) Metrics to track engagement
How do you know if officers are substantially engaging with the department’s policies?
Esper’s technology allows you to track page views, time spent on a page, and more to understand where officers are spending the most and least time on policy.
These metrics can help you make inferences on where policy may need to be clarified or officers need more training.
5) Link to supporting materials & related policy
There’s a lot of policy out there, and sometimes you don’t want to recreate the wheel. Esper makes it easy to search across other datasets and link them to your own, showing how and why you made a decision.
Historically, all of this functionality was either spread out through multiple software systems, or simply did not exist.
With Esper, police departments have one centralized location for policy research, drafting, review and publishing. In addition, read-only licenses can be issued for law enforcement officers on the ground—which can be accessed right from their cell phone.
As the department’s source of truth for all policy matters, Esper allows for real-time updates, version tracking and the review of historical policy changes and associated rulemakings.
After a policy has been drafted and reviewed by key stakeholders, Esper’s policy software for police departments enables departments to publish and house this policy within the product. Dashboards allow department staff—based on their permission settings—to access and track who has viewed a given policy and the average time spent reading it. Esper can be configured to send user-wide notifications when policies are updated, create role-based training sets and track any policy infractions.