There’s no doubt that advances in law enforcement software systems have improved communications between officers and made it easier and faster to dispatch them to where they are needed. As a result, law enforcement agencies are more able to protect the safety of the communities they serve, have better record-keeping capabilities, and offer greater accountability for individual officers.
Of course, as every department knows, that increased efficiency comes at a price. It’s absolutely necessary that computer-aided dispatch (CAD) and records management (RMS) software are kept up-to-date in order to keep a high level of communication between dispatchers, officers, city/county administrators and neighboring law enforcement agencies.
So how can a law enforcement agency keep costs contained and still manage to keep CAD and RMS software updated and running strong? There are a few options you can try to reduce costs, obtain funding, or both:
Try a Hosted Solution
Some hosted software solutions come with a regular payment instead of a big one-time investment and periodic expenses for maintenance and updates. These options are typically referred to SaaS (Software as a Service) solutions.
In addition to a SaaS model, other hosted solutions may also be available. These options may involve a larger portion of the cost upfront with smaller annual support payments to follow.
In either case, there are still advantages of using a hosted solution rather than a locally-installed solution. Some of those benefits are:
- it’s a predictable expense
- no powerful local server is required
- no maintenance fees
- low IT personnel costs
- free upgrades are often included in the subscription or support fees
Ask about Deals
If you decide that a hosted law enforcement software solution is not the right fit for your agency, or if you already have the hardware and IT personnel to handle a locally-hosted RMS software solution, then you still may be able to save some money by asking if there are any deals or promotions available. Software salespeople will often be able to provide discounts for various reasons, including:
- Needing to meet their quota at the end of a quarter
- Looking for large, influential or well-known agencies that can be an advocate for their company and deliver great “word of mouth” advertising for their software products
- Wanting to expand into your state or region -- this can work if the software provider doesn’t already have customers in your area
Be sure to let the salesperson know if you need to make a buying decision soon, such as in the next 3-6 months -- he or she might sweeten the deal to help you make your purchase sooner.
Look Into Financing Options
RMS or CAD software can be a big upfront expense, especially if you decide to host it in-house on your agency’s premises. But there are ways to soften the financial blow. For instance, you can research state or federal grants that assist law enforcement agencies in improving their technology and infrastructure. PoliceOne.com offers a comprehensive online resource for law enforcement grants called PoliceGrantsHelp.com. The website provides everything from grant writing tips to grant searches by state, keyword, type provider or category. In addition, you can connect directly with their grant assistance team for extra help.
If grants aren’t a probable solution in your case, you can also look into other financing options that make software easier to afford. For example, you may consider asset forfeitures, sharing costs with other departments that could benefit from use of the software or asking the technology provider if they have additional financing options, like installment plans.
Even though up-to-date RMS and CAD software can be a big expense, it can be lessened if you take the time to research your options and find the one that works best for your agency. And when you see how much the right software can improve your department’s communication and efficiency, you’ll see why so many agencies have decided it’s well worth the cost.