The following is paid content sponsored by QueTel.
By Police1 Staff
The Bellevue Police Department (BPD) is a full service police department located in Bellevue, Nebraska. Serving a population of over 50,000 citizens, the department also works closely with the nearby Offutt Air Force Base, as well as other law enforcement partners throughout the Omaha Metro area.
Kurt Stroeher, a lieutenant at the Belleview PD faced two problems: one, the time consuming process of managing digital and audio files and two, how to store officer worn video camera files.
In the past, officers and the evidence management team used to spend hours burning and sorting thousands of DVDs that held case data—from video and audio files to still images. In addition, BPD had purchased Vievu wearable video cameras, and Stroeher didn’t want to have the video files stored separately.
When a BPD detective recorded an incident with a point-and-shoot camera, he or she then had to be uploaded to his or her computer, burned to a disk and submitted as physical evidence to be managed in the property room. Officers, for their part, submitted the SD card out of their camera as physical evidence, and Stroeher’s team would then have to burn the files to a DVD, store it on shelf, reformat the SD card and send it back to an officer.
When a prosecutor requested still images he asked for three copies. So Stroeher’s team would have to burn the DVD three more times. If video camera footage was needed for court, the team would need to search the server to find the files and burn DVDs. They were spending hours burning, sorting and retrieving thousands of DVDs, Stroeher said.
With the Vievu video files, the officer would upload them to a server on the network. In this separate system, they would be purged in three months, unless they were evidence and related to a case.
Besides the staff hours needed, another problem was BPD’s paper-based evidence management process. It was also time consuming and prone to error.
After evaluating several potential vendors, the department chose QueTel’s TraQ Suite components Evidence TraQ and Digital TraQ. Digital TraQ is a secure, easily-searched single repository for the growing volume of digital evidence—still images, videos and voice recording. Evidence TraQ automates the process of seizing, managing and disposing of guns, drugs, money and other physical evidence.
Bellevue has found that Digital TraQ removes the burden of storing, managing and copying CD/DVDs and replaces the cumbersome and hard to access storage of files on less than secure servers.
Officers and investigators now upload their SD cards directly into the system, so the property and evidence team does not need to be involved. They have found uploading their body-worn video cameras using the Cam TraQ upload controller easy and user friendly.
All of the digital evidence is in one place and in the same database as the physical evidence submitted by the officers. Officer’s used an electronic entry form to describe their evidence, and they can run search or query to access all evidence from one screen.
That form his team catch more errors at the beginning of the process, as there are a lot of double checks in place.
“It is easy to see and to correct,” Stroeher said. “And the correction itself exists as part of that item’s history and chain of custody.”
The combination of digital and physical evidence has not only saved officer time, it has reduced staff time for Stroeher’s team, too—saving the department considerable money. Stroeher said that by eliminating DVD duplication alone, he saves about 10 staff hours a week.
“Without question we save staff time,” he said. “There is no doubt in my mind.”