Security classifications are critical when preparing crime reports. Learn what your RMS could be missing and how to fix it.
Safeguards are important in today’s climate. Situations where officers accidentally or intentionally disclose confidential information are unfortunate and more common than you think.
According to The Sentencing Project, the U.S. jail and prison population has increased by 500% over the past 40 years—think of the massive amounts of sensitive files and data floating around. That’s millions of cases in our systems that have incredibly sensitive information linked to them.
So then imagine, with the amount of crimes committed and prisoners in the United States prison system, just how many officers intentionally or otherwise disclose confidential information that’s readily at their fingertips, no matter the role they play in the case.
Now imagine a safeguard that protects all sensitive information. One that is baked into an RMS and provides security classifications that assure only the right eyes see the information. If your RMS isn’t doing this, it’s time to reexamine. Read on to learn why you need to secure your RMS, and how.
Reasons to Secure your RMS
The sensitive nature of information officers handle on crime reports and in all stages of case management require appropriate security classification every time an action is taken. Once the information is entered into an RMS, it can be accidentally or intentionally accessed by the wrong people, putting your agency, the case and those involved in danger. And while all sensitive information is critical to protect, there are some pieces of information more critical than others.
Sensitive information requiring extra care, like juveniles, sexual offense allegations and allegations involving terrorism deserve the utmost of privacy due to the highly sensitive nature of the allegations and the obligation to protect the identity of the victim.
An RMS that’s capable of marking documents and case folders with an appropriate security classification allows only the officers who have specific clearance levels to view, edit or work within them. These classifications can be adjusted depending on the case type. For terrorism allegations, classification can reflect the clearance level needed to work within the case, for example, a top secret clearance. With the ability to harness the power of security classifications, you can ensure this type of information doesn’t get into the wrong hands, like unauthorized personnel looking for it or even members of the media.
The same goes for sexual offenses. In these allegations, the victim’s name, address, telephone number and age are listed on the incident report along with other pertinent details. Follow-up interviews, lab results and even video evidence are all being collected and documented in the case folder. Consider the possibility of the newsworthiness of the identity of the victim—these documents and case investigations need to be secure and locked-down. Consider that there are nearly 100,000 forcible rapes in the US annually—that’s hundreds of thousands of allegations and sets of sensitive information that need to be safeguardeded.
Important Security Features
Some RMS solutions don’t have the ability for a user, or an agency manager, to prevent other users from viewing and even manipulating information on crime reports or case folders, which is problematic.
An exceptional software solution will provide security classification capability for every incident reported. This feature allows the user to apply a security classification level that’s ultimately approved by a supervisor. The feature allows only the officers who have the appropriate clearance to access and investigate the allegation.
Not all RMS systems have security features for each document an officer prepares. While some agencies have the capability to lock down cases the best software solutions allow security features at the inception of the crime report.
With a quality software solution, throughout the lifespan of the case, specific managers should have the ability to either lower or raise the security classification. If more information is gathered and the case becomes less sensitive, the manager can grant access to a wider range of people. If information becomes more sensitive as time goes on, the manager can tighten the reins again, bringing adaptability and agility to case management.
When agencies take the time to seek out a software solution that has robust security classification features and the ability to lock down information, they can be in more control of their sensitive information and maintain the highest standards of integrity in criminal incident reporting and case investigations.
Find out more about ShotSpotter Investigate, a smarter case management solution that can give your sensitive information the security it needs.
About the Author: Tom Rizzi is a retired Tucson, Arizona police lieutenant with a total of 28 years of police experience. Rizzi developed Tucson’s directed patrol program and currently serves as Customer Success Director for ShotSpotter Connect.