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Q&A: Closing the loop from car to court

A leading provider of eCitation solutions asks if you’re really getting the most out of your solution

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Agencies should consider e-citation solutions like those from Brother Mobile Solutions to streamline the process and increase safety, accuracy and revenue.

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If your agency is like most law enforcement agencies, your department has either implemented an e-citation solution or is considering one. You know the value of spending less time pushing paper and more time serving and protecting your community, not to mention the other benefits offered by e-citation systems that can enable your officers to work more safely, improve accuracy and boost revenue collection.

Most e-citation systems work like this: scan the driver’s license barcode, auto-populate the citation form, print the citation for the motorist, and then electronically send the citation to the courthouse. They also include the same basic components: a mobile printer, software, barcode scanner and a smart device such as a phone, laptop, tablet or handheld computer.

However, all e-citation systems are definitely not created equal. In this Q&A, Gary Reichle, Western Region major account manager for Brother Mobile Solutions, discusses the key factors and criteria to keep in mind when selecting, implementing and updating the legacy components of your e-citation system. With these components in place, you can optimize performance and maximize your ROI.

How are next-gen e-citation systems closing the loop from car to court?

Gary Reichle: e-citation systems continue to evolve. The original siloed systems have been replaced with ones that offer broader scope, significantly expanded functionality, ease of use and reliability. The best-in-class systems capitalize on Bluetooth wireless technology, USB connections or Wi-Fi to provide seamless continuity and integration between the electronic citations issued by officers in the field and downstream processing by the city or county clerk, judicial system and courts.

Today’s advanced e-citation solutions allow officers to conduct quick, on-the-spot database searches for traffic violations or criminal offenses. In addition to digitally capturing the driver’s signature, photo or fingerprint, many e-citation solutions can immediately transmit citation data wirelessly to linked entities, such as your agency’s record management system or the court system.

Mobile printers are key components of e-citation systems. What’s essential to look for?

Gary Reichle: The best mobile printers pack a lot of features and functionality into a compact, ergonomic package. The printers need to fit easily into a vehicle, motorcycle, or bicycle and be lightweight enough for officers to carry on a belt or shoulder strap for extended periods.

They should be able to print high-resolution documents from virtually any smart device. Printers should be compatible with all major operating systems and interface seamlessly with the software solution you’re using today — or may switch to in the future. It’s also important to know whether your printer will be ready to use out of the box, or if integration assistance will be required and at what cost.

Of course, printers also need to be rugged enough to withstand rough handling and work dependably in extreme heat, cold, and other tough environments. Speaking of durability, it’s also important to check out the length and performance guarantee of any warranty provided.

What are some of the newest mobile printer features?

Gary Reichle: Advancements in next-gen printers include faster printing speeds (up to 5ips), longer battery life thanks to smart Li-ion batteries, industrial-grade buttons, enhanced drop protection, active docking, and mobile device management. Device pairing is getting easier, too. For example, the RuggedJet 4200 from Brother Mobile Solutions delivers NFC capacity for easy device pairing and AirPrint technology that enables officers to print directly from mobile devices without downloading or installing drivers.

Brother Mobile Solutions also includes a custom-developed, cloud-based Mobile Deploy device management app free with all our models. This app helps enable simple, mobile deployment, integration and upgrades. Along with supporting fast, cost-saving deployment, it helps improve ROI by enabling a centralized IT or operations rep to remotely manage device updates in the field.

Which accessories can improve e-citation system efficiency and performance?

Gary Reichle: Innovative vehicle mounts from Brother Mobile Solutions enable officers to dock and mount the printer while allowing passthrough USB power to charge the battery. In addition, battery chargers with status LED and smart, high-capacity batteries that display battery life status and provide low-battery alerts are a plus for on-the-go officers.

Whether officers are in a patrol car, on a motorcycle, on a bicycle, or on foot, a wide range of vehicle mounts, hot-mounts, and carry case options support mobility and ease of use as well as protect the printers.

What other e-citation considerations should law enforcement agencies take into account?

Gary Reichle: Ease of use and versatility matter. Make certain that your printer’s paper is easy to change in the field. The process should be a two- to three-step process that requires only a few seconds of an officer’s time. Also, top public safety applications for e-citation systems go well beyond printing violation notices to include parking violations, accident/crime scene information, emergency instructions, evidence labels, inspection reports and warning notices. Compact models such as the RuggedJet 4200 can print smaller format documents from 1" to 4" wide. Other applications may require full-page mobile printing capacity, uniquely provided by the PocketJet 7 full-page printer from Brother Mobile Solutions.

Both the RuggedJet 4200 and PocketJet 7 series are thermal printers, eliminating any worry about running out of ink or toner.

What measurable benefits can the right e-citation system deliver?

Gary Reichle: Several have been documented. For example, e-citation systems can increase officer safety by slashing dangerous roadside ticketing time. Also, significant quantities of handwritten tickets are dismissed due to illegibility, which nationally, can add up to millions of dollars in lost revenue every year.

In addition, by dramatically reducing the administrative cost of issuing and processing citations while also increasing revenue collection, law enforcement agencies can see a fast return on their e-citation solution investment. As public agencies and municipalities face increased pressure to do more with less, that matters more than ever.