E-Signature Solutions Contributing to Investigation Advances in Idaho

Mary Ellen Power, June 3, 2014

Electronic signature policy allows organizations to use technologies that drive better processes. Companies that use e-signature technology effectively can establish a framework for much more effective operations, and law enforcement officials in Idaho are getting on board with this trend. According to a recent report from the Magic Valley Times-News, the state has been working for a while to accelerate investigation processes, particularly laboratory tests, and electronic signatures have played a major role in this process.

Looking at the process challenges facing crime labs

The news source explained that what you see on television is not what you get when you are trying to solve real crimes and track down criminals. DNA tests, blood tests and other laboratory processes often take months, not days to complete. In state labs alone, sending samples between locations can take an extended period of time, but challenges get much worse when the state can't handle issues on its own and needs to send samples to private labs that have the resources and personnel needed to perform advanced tests.

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There are many legislative issues that limit when and how different types of samples, and data related to those materials, can be obtained and stored. These challenges and concerns are legitimate issues, but there are also major problems dealing with logistics, the report said. The process of mailing samples between laboratories can take months and lead to cases where suspects cannot be arrested for an extended period because of the amount of time it takes to get materials between labs. These day-to-day operations represent incredible challenges for investigators, and getting signatures is, or at least was, a major part of the problem.

Considering how e-signatures have revolutionized crime lab operations

All of the mailing processes involved with lab materials are only part of the problem. Getting forms associated with evidence signed and properly filed is also incredibly difficult. Industry expert Matthew Gamette told the news source that, in the past, the process of getting signatures for laboratory-related materials has long been a problem. In the past, legislative guidelines mandated that each scientist handling a sample needed to be sworn in and have a notary present each time he or she signs for something or the signature will not be considered valid.

The state recently changed to allow electronic signature software to be used in laboratory operations, and the change has already led to considerable progress. Eliminating this logistical hurdle has helped crime labs accelerate operations dramatically and helped them accelerate operations in a variety of ways. Gamette told the Magic Valley Times-News that e-signature solutions have saved law enforcement professionals thousands of hours annually, and the time has come to embrace technology even more moving forward.

Applying e-signature benefits in a variety of sectors

The logistical problems facing crime labs are not particularly unique. Organizations in sectors ranging from real estate to insurance face significant challenges as they need to distribute sensitive and highly regulated materials between diverse locations. Mailing documents and other materials can take an incredible amount of time, especially when errors are made.

For example, a complex real estate form that requires multiple signatures, initials and fields filled can leave users with plenty of room for error. If that document takes a week to mail, the client takes two days to take care of it, another day to mail it out and another week in the mail you are looking at almost two weeks. What happens when that form has even one or two small errors? Suddenly companies are looking at almost a month just to get forms filled out.

E-signatures don't just eliminate the time it takes to mail forms, they also feature built-in correction tools that identify when forms are filled out incorrectly. The end result is a situation in which e-signatures drive efficiency in a variety of ways.

Do you think the time has come for your business to embrace e-signatures? Listen to our "Is Your Company Ready for Electronic Signatures" webcast to find out.