Report writing is an onerous task. There isn’t an officer I know that enjoys the task who wouldn’t rather be out in the field doing K9 training or deploying on calls. Unfortunately, this is the new Millennium and given the current war on law enforcement both on the streets and in the courts, it is necessary to take report writing to a new level.
Simple hand-written documentation is inadequate in todays world, and even computer-generated reports on standard RMS systems do not provide the protection that is needed when it comes to direct and vicarious liability, or even maintaining convictions in court.
KATS has evolved numerous times over the years to keep pace with the ever-changing needs of K9 law enforcement, keeping track of case law to provide what is needed in the system without creating openings for potential bad case law.
Over the years, literally thousands of hours have gone into system design, with a specific focus on trying to satisfy the need to provide adequate records management and protect agencies and officers from liability, while at the same time not being burdensome to the officers using it. That has been the target and has been extremely difficult. Major changes were made in the KATS Platinum product to improve upon the KATS Generation 4 K9 software system with that specific goal in mind.
In today’s world however, it is no longer about simply tracking your training and deployments. Should you ever get hit by a lawsuit, courts frequently require information that require the history of suspect demographics with the K9 team involved, bite ratios, training history, training that is comparative to the deployment of the dog in a specific case and more. For that reason, it is paramount that you use whatever records management system to its fullest.
KATS is designed to protect you. In the training module of the system, we designed our K9 software to track all your training activities. These activities are set up in the system with a specific blueprint designed to create reports that provide an accurate account of all your training in a manner that will support you during litigation or to assist you in gaining a conviction on a suspect. This can be powerful if used appropriately but can be ineffective if not properly utilized.
The system is designed to provide you with a proper training plan and report training outcomes accurately and in such a manner that it they leave no doubt in the readers mind of the accuracy and value of the documentation. At the same time, the design provides trainers with a form of a training plan that can be referred to for ongoing training.
When you enter an Activity in the system there are multiple tabs that provide field entries. The first tab after the main screen is the Objectives Tab. Training objectives set out the goals for your training session. Directly under the Objectives entry field is a drop-down selection where you can fill in the results of your training for this session by selecting 1 of 6 options.
Selections 5 and 6 indicate that performance objectives were not met. It is important that you document failures during training, identify the problems and come up with a plan to overcome the issue. When you select option 5 or 6 you are offered a new field in which you provide a short note of what corrective actions you are going to take to correct the issue.
In short, you haven’t just recorded your training, you have in fact created a basic training plan. Your ideas on corrective measures you record here then become a part of your Training Objectives for your next training activity when you are going to work on the same profile.
Not only have you created a training plan, but the system has also begun to collect performance statistics that will over time generate graphs that show training consistency over time. This is beneficial to trainers who need a quick reference to see how the teams they are working on are doing. In an glance these graphs will pinpoint areas that need work.
The next tab in the Activities module is the Comments tab. Here the K9 officer and his/her trainer, if a trainer is involved, can input their observations of the training and how the dog performed. This is paramount in showing transparency to the courts.
These details prove that you are being detailed in your training, and the actions you are taking to overcome any insufficiencies. Old school of thought was that you always showed 100% performance on your training profiles by your dog. In todays reality that is simply a dangerous concept. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS THE PERFECT DOG!
Common sense dictates there will be some training difficulties. It is OK and in fact important to log these, and then in future entries, log the actions taken to overcome the issues. This shows integrity and provides value to your records and any related testimony.
The Training Aid Tracking System is designed for detection dog training, serves a dual purpose. It is important that the results of your training and how your dog performed on each hide be recorded. The system also tracks where your hides are located and provides a failsafe to ensure you recover all your aids before leaving the training site.
Regardless of what system you use, it is imperative that you document thoroughly. Double check your records and make sure you have filled out the information properly so that you gain maximum protection from the system you have in place. In doing system audits when agency supervisors have called to ask why they aren’t seeing any information in the reports they are pulling we have found that in every case, the K9 officer is only inputting the bare minimum of information. In some cases, they will fill out a Training Activity, put in the training hours and nothing else. There is no record of what type of training, and in some cases a Training Activity will be selected, but then no information about the performance of the dog is recorded.
The system is powerful, and it will protect you, but it will also fail if the K9 officer does not input the information needed to make the system work.
The blueprint we created for our system design of the KATS Training Modules follows the same integrity of design we created during development of the Incident or Case Report side. The information is collected in a way that provides input that creates an ongoing record of training development through using a training plan concept. This provides you everything you need to protect against liability issues and to give background support on criminal cases to assist in gaining convictions in court. A properly educated K9 officer, backed by strong training records and the proper predicate questions, can be qualified as an expert witness via voire dire testimony on K9 deployments. This lends strength to your case. The caveat is that you need to have proper records and a solid curriculum vitae to support you.
The value of proper documentation cannot be stressed enough. In the US Supreme Court case of Florida vs Harris the Court criticized the Florida state court for treating field-performance records as more probative of the dog’s reliability than its training and certification records, which stem from controlled environments, and concluded that evidence of training, even without certification, can be sufficient to establish reliability.