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Arresting development: computerized booking


County police officers will spend more time on the streets and less time filling out reports, thanks to a $227,550 federal grant that will be used to buy computer equipment to speed up the booking process.

The grant, announced Friday by County Executive John G. Gary, comes from a Department of Justice program called COPS MORE -- Making Officer Redeployment Effective. Started last year, the program is intended to put more police on the streets without hiring additional officers.

Lisa Ritter, a spokeswoman for Mr. Gary, said the money will enable the county to buy 20 personal computers as well as modems, printers and other hardware. The equipment will be divided among the four police districts and the criminal investigation division.

Under Anne Arundel's current booking system, officers have to write out arrest reports, driving-while-intoxicated reports and the charging documents related to both.

But with new computers and a software package called ARAPS -- for Automated Report/Arrest Processing System -- officers will be able to enter data once for a variety of reports.

"Every patrol officer who makes an arrest will have access to [the computers]," Ms. Ritter said. "Instead of filling out six different forms in longhand, they can fill in the data and print the form they need."

The beauty of ARAPS, Ms. Ritter said, is that officers will have to fill in suspect information only once instead of repeating it for each form.

"It will reduce the time associated with preparing arrest reports," agreed Capt. Gregory Shipley, head of the Police Department's management services section.

He said the time spent processing each criminal arrest report for 12,007 arrests in 1994 averaged nearly 166 minutes per officer; the average time for 1,943 DWI arrest reports was nearly 178 minutes per officer.

With ARAPS, the department expects to reduce time spent processing criminal arrest reports and DWI arrest reports by 64 and 97 minutes, respectively, and to save nearly 16,000 hours annually on report writing.

That, police claim, would be equivalent to putting nine more officers on the street.

Ms. Ritter estimates that the county will have the money in a few weeks. Officials are awaiting a Department of Justice form to specify equipment they plan to buy.

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