Like many cities, San Jose, California, is struggling to control crime while budget shrinks. To increase officers’ efficiency, the San Jose police department (SJPD) wanted to run a pilot project to learn how a database system might reduce the time officers spend on paperwork, increasing their time on the streets.
Sgt. Ralph Garner of the SJPD’s Communications Division asked Al Pettis, a Business Development Executive at Apple, to meet to discuss the project. Al asked us to attend the meeting to help consider software needs.
The software had to be easy to use, completely dependable, and the printed output had to match existing forms. They first asked us if the software can be written in time for the project kickoff – in two and a half weeks! Relishing the challenge, we asked: “When do we start?”
We took a few days to consider the file and record structure. The template should hold hundreds of cases and be compact enough to quickly and easily back up. Unlike other platforms, all of the officer’s work would be done in one file. There would be three main areas of development: writing the basic program, creating the background (lines, text, and boxes), and most importantly, creating an easy-to-use, Fail-Safe interface. During the development, we showed evolving prototypes to the department to make sure they’re the template met their needs. Two weeks later we customize the software for each officer and installed “CrimeBuster” (as we called it) on their laptops.
The officers received personalized software and with only two hours of training, were able to begin writing reports. Data entry is performed on screens where all information is displayed without scrolling. An “Intelligent printing system” indicates which forms need to be printed.
At the end of the project, questionnaires completed by the officers were analyzed by Professor Steven Kwan of the San Jose State University School of Business. He found an overwhelming preference for CrimeBuster, which was “equal or markedly superior in all categories…the analyses warrant a recommendation that the SJPD consider the software as THE platform for use by their officers.”
At a press conference announcing the results of the project, Chief of Police Luis Cobarruviaz congratulated the CrimeBuster team on their success and noted “This, to me, is very, very key to how we shape the department in the future. It’s related to what we hope to do in terms of our record management system down the road and how we integrate all these parts.”