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Cost Justification



Sample Cost Justification Proposals

The following is a sample cost justification proposal that can be used when proposing the use of the Digital CrimeScene System. It discusses:

  • limitations and time consuming process of outdated image management
  • time constraints placed on investigators
  • limited availability of photographs
  • 35mm format versus digital
  • benefits of using a system such as Digital CrimeScene
  • cost savings of digital images and reduction in printing
  • proposed system deployment using a system such as Dgitial CrimeScene

Click here to download a Microsoft Word version of this document.

1. Objective:

The My Police Department provides law enforcement services to over 900,000 residents who reside and/or work in a 178 square mile area. The department is a dynamic, progressive and professional organization dedicated to promotion of a high quality of life for the city’s diverse population.The department is comprised of 1,363 budgeted sworn personnel and 448 non-sworn personnel. Of these, the Bureau of Investigations has a staff of 213 sworn investigators and 14 command officers. Responsibilities include, but are not limited to, proactive and reactive investigation of criminal activity involving persons and property.


The tasks of investigators continue to become more complex, and corresponding demands on them increase. The current method for handling photographs associated with cases is cumbersome, slow, and contributes little to the initial investigation process and the later filing of criminal complaints. Human error, misplaced photographs, and equipment malfunctions at times hinder successful criminal prosecutions.


For example, in a domestic violence arrest, police investigators have a 48-hour window with which charges can be filed and in an in custody file submitted to the District Attorney’s Office for review. For non-death cases, photographs are not available within this time frame. Without this compelling evidence, the severity of the crime can be diminished because injuries cannot be described vividly as depicted in photographs. In the absence of photographs, investigators may determine that the case does not contain enough evidence to pursue, or the District Attorney’s office can decide that a case is not compelling enough to prosecute. Moreover, photographic evidence can act as a “tie-breaker” in marginal cases where guilt or exoneration is not easily determined. There have been cases where a suspect was released after a 48-hour period. After the evidentiary photographs became available, investigators had to obtain an arrest warrant and re-arrest the suspect.


Not only is this process time-consuming, it constitutes additional risk for the investigators, the public, and potential victims. The suspect now knows he or she is under scrutiny and will be more apt to flee, resist arrest, or re-offend. The ready availability of case photographs would reduce the number of hard core criminals released at the time of arraignment.


In one instance, while a particularly violent repeat domestic violence offender was in custody, the District Attorney's Office deemed that the police report, which was factual but terse, did not present sufficient evidence to file charges. Photographs were not readily available. Because this was a particularly violent offense, and police investigators felt that this suspect was likely to re-offend, the investigator returned to the scene of the crime, re-contacted the victim, and persuaded her to allow Polaroid photographs to be taken of her injuries. Had these last minute photographs not been available for District Attorney review, the entire criminal complaint process could have taken up to two weeks. The suspect would have been released from custody at the time of arraignment: since statistics show that domestic violence victims are in particular danger of being assaulted again during the days following police contact, the victim would have been in grave physical danger during this time.


Currently, photographs are shot during the preliminary investigation phase using a variety of cameras, but most commonly 35mm format. The film is submitted to the Police Department's in-house photo lab for processing.Since limited financial resources preclude the printing of photographs for all cases, only cases involving deaths are routinely printed for investigator review. Should an investigator working a non-death-related case need to view the photographs for that case. a special request must be submitted to the photo lab. This delay can hinder prosecution efforts and dilute the impact that potent visual images of victims and crime scenes impart lo case investigators and prosecutors. Law enforcement investigators and prosecutors may decide not to pursue or prosecute a case that would otherwise be considered viable with photographs graphically portraying victims and crime scenes. Particularly in domestic abuse cases, prior photographs can be accessed and linked to current photographs to demonstrate escalation of injuries, thereby enabling law enforcement and prosecutors to make expeditious, informed decisions on investigative direction and case prosecution.


The primary objective of this proposal is to eliminate impediments to the successful resolution and/or prosecution of criminal cases by addressing a relatively straightforward problem: delays caused by manual photo processing. Initially, the proposed solution, which establishes a system for digital storage and retrieval of evidentiary photographs now manually processed, will enhance communication and data sharing between the My Police Department, My County Office of the District Attorney, and the County Crime Lab. The quantifiable, immediate benefit realized will be in the form of increases in cases closed and filed for prosecution. Ultimately, all law enforcement agencies in My County would experience direct benefits, since the long-term goal of this project is to have a system of this sort accessible to every law enforcement agency in the county within three years of project inception.


This will be accomplished by establishment of a secure electronic database which will be utilized by police investigators to enhance knowledge and understanding of injury, loss and/or damage sustained by the crime victim, and 'by the District Attorney's Office to better evaluate cases and file the most appropriate charges.


2. Results/Benefits Expected

The axiom "A picture is worth a thousand words" is most apt; for investigators and prosecutors, nothing can replace a visual reference to the scene or victim. Many cases are not prosecuted because the physical evidence is not compelling or readily available.

Expected results and benefits to be realized by the implementation of this project are itemized below.

  1. The amount of investigative staff time required to successfully close a case would be significantly reduced. Photographs are also powerful evidence in a court of law. Having these photographs immediately available for examination while reviewing a police report will assist investigators in determining case solvability. For each non-death case that is closed, a police investigator spends at least one hour of time requesting case photographs and distributing/delivering the photographs to the District Attorney's Office. With the proposed system, both the District Attorneys' Office and the police- investigators would have immediate access to these photographs.
  2. In FY 1998-99, 390 assault cases and 550 domestic violence cases were rejected during, the complaint review process. It is anticipated that with supporting photographs, the number of District Attorney rejections will be greatly reduced.
  3. Printing photographs on the laser printer, rather than using "silver image" technology will result in significant cost reductions. During August 1999, the My Police Department photo lab printed 8,700 photographs using traditional methods. Each 4"x5" color print costs $0.15 to process. We estimate that per-print cost of photographs using our proposed system will drop to $0.07 or $0.05 per print, a reduction of approximately 60% in processing Costs
  4. The number of photographs immediately made available for investigator review will increase, During August 1999, the My Police Department photo lab printed 8,700 photographs, but processed 1,277 rolls of film, with 12 exposures per roll, for a total of 15, 324 exposures. We estimate that all of these exposures could have been available for investigator review if the proposed system had been in place. This is an increase of 76% in the number of photographs available for review.
  5. Significant staff time savings will be realized. The Senior Office Specialist now employed in the My Police Department photo lab uses approximately 15 hours per week to respond to photo requests, distribute the photographs, and notify the investigators that photographs are available for viewing. If photographs were available on-line for investigators to review and print, this administrative support time for this function would be significantly reduced if not eliminated, and the individual assigned to complete these tasks could be utilized to complete other, more constructive projects. These benefits will be realized as the result of the following improvements:
  • A smoother flow of existing images due to the ability of law enforcement personnel to instantaneously access photographs using desktop workstations, versus physically pulling negatives from files, waiting for prints to be processed, and distributing photographs to prosecutors.
  • Increased availability of photographs, which will enhance the ability of law enforcement agencies to determine appropriate charges when enhancements when filing criminal Cases.

3. Approach

A. Plan of Action:

Currently, patrol officers or investigators take photos at crime scenes with a variety of cameras. These photos are submitted to the photo lab to be processed into negatives, but only the photographs related to death cases are routinely printed. This curtailed approach has been adopted in order to reduce substantial costs associated with the printing and storing of photographs. Should police investigators or county prosecutors developing a non-death case need photographic evidence, a special request is processed and the photographs are printed, delivered, and distributed.


The proposed method, using the latest available technology, maximizes the use of photographic evidence by establishing a system for digital storage and prompt retrieval of these images. After film is processed to the negative stage, it will be scanned into secure digital files and stored on designated servers housed in the My Police Department for retrieval by authorized law enforcement personnel. Rather than "silver print" processing, which is time-consuming, costly, and uses toxic chemicals that are an environmental concern, case photographs will be printed immediately from a computer workstation using a laser printer. A limited number of digital cameras will be employed in the field to examine the cost and efficiency impact of eliminating all of the 35mm cameras now most commonly used. The District Attorney's Office and the County Crime Lab will have desktop access to this photograph evidence. This will eliminate the need for investigators physically pulling negatives from files, waiting for prints processing, logging the prints, and hand delivering prints to the attorneys. Access for all authorized law enforcement personnel will be instantaneous.


The proposed solution includes all necessary hardware and software. The system provides for rapid retrieval, display, and transmission of large image/data files. The efficiency is achieved through software design and user configuration of descriptive databases. Future hardware reconfigurations or upgrades are not necessary.

The proposed system includes the following features:

  • Custom-design display and printing requirements
  • Definition and customization of the descriptive database
  • Standard and ad hoc query capabilities
  • Image compression using industry standard JPEG compression
  • Single or multiple high-resolution images for a specific crime using 35MM, digital or SVHS video cameras
  • One step" creation of case jackets, image loading for that case, and logging of case records
  • Client/server architecture with WAN/LAN functionality
  • Secured database
  • Consistent image capture (quality control checks)

Assigned investigators and prosecutors will be able to retrieve the images from existing networked workstations. This capability enhances the ability of law enforcement personnel to thoroughly evaluate a case, not just from the terse content of the written police report, but through the ability to visualize the extent of real life injury or damage sustained by victims.


B. Projections of activity

The current workload for the My Police Department photo lab averages 8,000 to 10,000 prints per month and approximately 300 to 400 rolls of film processed each week. Using these reference numbers, the scanning of these rolls of film will enable over 75% more photographs to be viewed by investigators- This increased availability benefits the Police Department, the District Attorney's Office, and, ultimately, all law enforcement agencies in My County.


C. Success criteria and measurement

Success criteria will be measured and enumerated as itemized below.

  1. A reduction in the amount of investigative staff time required to successfully close a case.
  2. A reduction in the number of cases rejected by the District Attorney due to lack of photographic evidence.
  3. Cost reductions realized as the result of printing photographs on the laser printer rather than using "silver image" technology.
  4. An increase in the number of photographs immediately made available for investigator review.
  5. Significant administrative staff time savings in the My Police Department photo lab, resulting in the redeployment of support personnel to complete other, more constructive projects.

For the first six months the system is operational, the My Police Department will run ad-hoc reports to ascertain 1) the changes in numbers of cases closed by criminal complaint or turned down by the District Attorney's Office in the crime categories of domestic violence, child and elder abuse/neglect, assaults, juvenile crime, missing persons cases, hate crimes, and traffic investigation, 2) the increase in the number of photographs available for case review, and 3) cost reductions realized as a result of printing photographs on the laser printer versus the usage of "silver image" technology now in place.