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4 Benefits of a Modern RMS: Lessons from San Antonio Police Department

Matt Portanova  | 21 March 2022  |  3 minute read

The San Antonio skyline at sunset.

In 2019, the San Antonio Police Department (SAPD) knew their records management system (RMS) wasn’t meeting the department’s needs. Captain Karen Falks, at the time responsible for Community Engagement & Technology, led the team who upgraded SAPD from a legacy records management solution to Mark43 RMS, a cloud-native RMS for public safety agencies, establishing best practices and innovative ways of thinking along the way.

I recently talked with Karen Falks, now Deputy Chief of Police, and Ellen Hempen, Executive Vice President of GovExec and Co-Founder of The Atlas for Cities, about SAPD’s experience modernizing their RMS. I previously shared with you some of the things we discussed in Five Essential Steps to Modernize Police Reporting: Advice from the San Antonio Police Department.

Today, let’s take a few minutes and discuss the benefits of SAPD’s decision to modernize its reporting.

Increasing the Amount of Time Officers Are in the Field

One benefit of Mark43 RMS recognized by our customers is a significant reduction in the amount of time officers spend writing reports, typically in the office. By reducing the time officers spend in the office writing reports, SAPD increased the amount of time officers spend in the field, patrolling streets, and interacting with the community.

“Officers are taking very little or less time writing reports. Now they’re available for the community much more,” shared Deputy Chief Falks.

Decreasing Time to Investigation

Before switching to Mark43 RMS, reports would be written by officers and then go through a lengthy approval process before a detective could begin an investigation, which could take anywhere from a week to 10 days. This was frustrating for detectives, who lost valuable time following up with victims of crime and other community members.

Today, once an officer submits a report, a detective is notified and can begin working on their investigation immediately while the report goes through the official approval process. The rapid sharing of information has reduced investigation delays and benefited both the department and community members.

“Our detectives love the fact that as soon as an officer writes a report in the system, the detective has access to it,” stated Deputy Chief Falks.

Improving Public Satisfaction

The two benefits we’ve discussed so far — increasing time in the field and decreasing time to investigation — are, individually, fantastic benefits. Together, they create a critical and more public benefit: improved public perception and satisfaction. 

San Antonio residents have noticed the increase in officers patrolling the streets. Residents are expressing their appreciation for the changes at homeowners events and other community engagements where SAPD is present.

According to Deputy Chief Falks, “The way we engage with our community now, with Mark43, is just incredible.”

Eliminating Downtime

When SAPD needed to update its legacy system, the department would have what they called “dark period.” For a few days officers would be unable to electronically create reports, instead officers handwrote reports that would later be entered into the RMS when the upgrade or maintenance was complete.

Cloud-native technologies, like Mark43 RMS, require zero downtime for upgrades and maintenance. Instead, once software updates are ready to be shared, all Mark43 customers can seamlessly turn on changes without any impact to system availability.

“The best thing that I love about [Mark43 RMS] is there’s zero downtime for maintenance or upgrades, and that’s because it’s web-based, it’s cloud-based,” shared Deputy Chief Falks.

You can take an in-depth look at every aspect of San Antonio’s effort to modernize its reporting and discover more takeaways from San Antonio’s successful RMS modernization when you check out the on-demand webinar, “How We Did It: Modernizing Police Reporting,” from Mark43 and GovExec.

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