Williamson County’s County and District Attorneys are responsible for processing 20K+ cases annually. The digital evidence associated with these files could average 240TB annually. These cases are generated from 30+ plus outside Law Enforcement Agencies (LEA).
In 2011, Williamson County adopted Laserfiche for content services and recently released an RFP for a Digital Evidence Management System, and our response recommended that they to take advantage of their current platform and our consulting services to build the process that all involved parties’ need in the process.
There are three key evidence roles:
- Law Enforcement Agency (LEA) – Responsible for opening a case and providing all evidence.
- Prosecutor (CA/DA) – Prosecutes the parties involved in a case.
- Defense Attorney– Defends their client who is a party in the case.
These roles all need access to evidence; however, they are located in different areas across the County and do not necessarily have access to the same systems.
The Evidence Life Cycle’s biggest gap is collecting and distributing digital evidence for processing cases. There could be 100s+ pieces of digital evidence associated with one case. The digital evidence for internal and external agencies consisted of unsecure and non-centralized methods, such as emails, paper, thumb drives, FTP, and DVDs.
The cumbersome method for managing evidence caused court delays, redundant processing, duplicate file storage, security breaches, and missing evidence, all of which were costly liabilities.
Content services is an enterprise solution that includes robust functionality such as workflow capabilities, secured access, full audit trails, integration options, and varying access levels – allowing organizations the scalability needed to build out any business process their organization needs.
A content services platform, such as Laserfiche, provides an integrated and streamlined process for a Digital Evidence Management System that gives the different roles the access they need. Integrations with key applications already used by staff reduces data entry and removes steps in the process.
Law Enforcement Agencies (LEA) Discovery Portal
Williamson County offers (30+) law enforcement agencies a secure self-service authenticated portal to upload digital evidence and integrate with Public Safety Records Management System (RMS).
How It Works:
- User completes an electronic form on the County’s Discovery portal to submit a case.
- The RMS metadata auto-populates in the case submission form, avoiding duplicate entry and increases data integrity.
- A batch process runs automatically to upload RMS files and creates a digital case jacket.
- Digital evidence uploads to the case jacket
Law Enforcement Agencies In-Car & Body Camera
Williamson County has another important integration with the LEA’s in-car and body cameras system with evidence.com. An API integration runs a search for matching Williamson County Discovery case numbers; when there is a match, the evidence.com files download to the Wilco Discovery case jacket.
Most of the videos uploaded have been converted to MP4 to allow streaming through Weblink. The LEA has 24/7 access to the case jacket until the case is closed.
County/District Attorneys (DA/CA)
The County’s CA/DA receives a workflow notification when an LEA submits a new case. The LEA case number links to the Odyssey Judicial system control number. The attorneys manage the discovery of the individual pieces of evidence through Laserfiche with direct Odyssey access within the app.
An on-demand evidence log is presented to both the prosecutor and defense attorney to verify all digital information shared before the court hearing. When the case is closed, it automatically closes in Williamson County Discovery with a ten-business day delay to allow the defense attorney access for ten additional business days.
Defense Attorney Discovery Portal Process:
- The Defense Attorney requests account access through the Account Access Form.
- A workflow sends the request for approval and automatically creates an account.
- The Defense Attorney submits a discovery request for each case, and a workflow confirms they are the attorney on record.
- A fully automated workflow then sets security on all the files within the case jacket to discover each piece of evidence.
- The LEA will have 24/7 access to the case jacket until ten business days past the case closing date.
Business process automation saved money, reduced processing time, and decrease liability for Williamson County.
Key Benefits Include:
- No longer driving back and forth to pick-up evidence.
- Evidence is centralized and available 24/7.
- Decrease in demand for physical storage space.
- Decrease in hours worked by DA/CA staff.
- Huge decrease in liability.
- Able to provide full back-ups.
- Metadata search available.
- Manageable retention.
- Centralized Security.
- File Consolidation.