Lab TraQ is intended to serve medium sized law enforcement agencies with forensic units that provide a range of services on site, though they may shift more technically demanding ones to state or county laboratories. The system integrates fully with QueTel’s Evidence TraQ and Image TraQ to save time and paper. From service request to reporting the results of the work, the process is electronic. The results are available to be accessed as needed by detectives as they prepare for court. Since the process is electronic, those who need to see the status of a request or generate statistics have an easy time of it.
Traditionally, the process of submitting, assigning, executing, and monitoring, requests for services from forensic units is a study in process paperwork. An officer, detective, or prosecutor fills out a paper request, manually entering again data that was on the original evidence report. It goes to the forensic unit where it is assigned to an analyst or criminalist, and a copy may be retained as a tickler. Some agencies record it in a log book instead. The analyst arranges to get the item to be analyzed from the evidence room, performs the requested task(s), writes up or manually marks up a report of findings and has it signed off by a peer or supervisor. Analysts record the chain of custody on paper for evidence items that move to and from the evidence room or within the forensic unit. While in progress, the request enters a black hole, until the work is finished, unless the supervisor has a means to get a manual progress report or sits with the analyst to review his or her workload. To know the status of a request, it’s an email or a phone call. Naturally assembling any sort of statistics is totally manual and quite primitive.
Lab TraQ is designed to make the process easier, paperless, and visible, while making it easy to generate statistics and reports. Requests for analysis can originate from a browser screen either when the officer submits his/her evidence report or at any time later. S/he avoids duplicate data entry and saves time, as the information that needs to go to Forensics can be copied from Evidence TraQ, (case number, charge, suspect, victim, etc.). The request is posted electronically in the forensic unit, where it is assigned and posted to the assigned analyst’s screen. S/he, in turn, electronically requests evidence, which s/he picks up or has delivered. Every movement of evidence items is logged in the Evidence TraQ chain of custody.
When the work is complete, if needed, the system fills in information in report configured to the jurisdiction’s standard format. Thereafter, the system permits electronic review and approval. The final report can be stored electronically or printed as needed. This allows authorized users to more readily while avoiding filing and copying. The software exposes and provides information not otherwise available. During the process, authorized users can query the status of requests via browser connection. Managers are able to generate management statistics; survey performance; and spot and deal with bottlenecks, by querying the database.