This month the Salt River Police Department (SRPD) would like to spotlight the Records Bureau as a way to increase awareness about the individual divisions within the police department.
The mission of the Records Bureau is to provide state-of-the art records management and data collection for the SRPD and for the public, and to provide information, as requested, in accordance to policy and law, in an accurate and timely manner, to the public and to members of the criminal-justice system.
Record-keeping is a critical function of the Records Bureau, because the police report is the primary means of data collection for crime analysis. The Records Bureau maintains all official police reports, citations, accident reports and other documents generated by police department personnel. The SRPD Records Bureau maintains these records using AEGIS, a Microsoft Windows–based platform, and the Law Enforcement Records Management System (LERMS) software. This system tracks statistical, operational, investigative, management and administrative data for inquiries and reports of law enforcement–related cases and incidents. The SRPD personnel all have limited access to the system; unlike the Records clerks, they are able to enter data, upload documents and retrieve information upon request.
All police records personnel are civilian positions. The Records Bureau is under the supervision of Manager Margaret Miles, who has been employed with SRPD for almost 25 years. The Records clerks are directly supervised by Records Supervisors Shalane Aguirre and Kristen Hawee. There are currently five clerk positions in the Records Bureau. All eight staff members are Native American, and three of them are Community members.
The clerks work a 40-hour shift schedule, which includes evenings, weekends and holidays. The Records Bureau is open to the public six days a week with the exception of holidays.
Hawee has worked at the SRPD for six years. She said that she always wanted to work in a police department so she can give back to her brothers and cousins, who serve as police officers in different departments.
“The officers do more than patrolling,” said Hawee. “What the public doesn’t see is all the paperwork that they do. It’s very detailed and time-consuming for them. On our end, we receive all the paperwork and process it to the appropriate courts for the officers. We also maintain the documents here for future request. We have reports coming through every single day, 24 hours a day. The officers are on patrol and they submit the reports all the time, and so when we come in we do the reports and merge them.”
Because the Records Bureau is not open 24/7, three supervisors are on call. Custody case reports are time-sensitive, so if an officer gets any in custody calls between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m., a supervisor must be called in because those reports have to be merged right away so that the whole case and paperwork can be sent to the court by 8 a.m.
“The work has been good; it’s been keeping us busy,” said Records Clerk Rachel Norton. “I learned how to be patient with people, [about the importance of] confidentiality, and taking everything in stride and not rushing anything, because if you rush you can really mess a report up.”
Norton is no stranger to the SRPD; her father was a lieutenant with the SRPD for 24 years.
Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community members interested in working at the Records Bureau must take and pass a polygraph test, background check and drug test.
“There is a lot of data entry we do,” said Hawee. “We have to pay attention to detail and we are in an enclosed office. I know a lot of people don’t like to sit down and do this all day every day, so it takes special people to get this job done.”
The staff must stay on point with confidentiality; the Records Bureau gets a lot of phone calls from members of the public trying to get information from a police report. Sometimes it’s tough for staff to not give out too much information when they get those requests.
“The reason why we can’t give out information is because the Community is a sovereign nation and does not follow the Freedom of Information Act, which all the other departments statewide do. Anyone can go into a police department someplace else, request a copy of a report and get it. Here, it’s different; we treat confidentiality very strictly, [and we are careful about] releasing any information, to protect our Community members,” said Hawee.