When Chris Wacker started Laserfiche with his late wife, Nien-Ling Wacker, in 1987, he didn’t think he’d be in the business of saving lives.
“We were heralding the advent of the paperless office,” Wacker, now Laserfiche’s CEO, said from his office in Bixby Knolls. “And that’s still a large piece of the business.”
Over the past three decades, the company has created enterprise content management and automated form processing software for large and small businesses; the company is basically all about finding ways for companies to store and easily access electronic files.
They have about 35,000 customers all over the world, and more than 5 million users. Among those clients are many of Long Beach’s city departments, including the Long Beach Police Department.
So when former LBPD Police Chief Jim McDonnell approached the firm to create software that would help officers enforce gang injunctions, Wacker said he just saw it as part of the job.
Gang injunctions are court-ordered restraining orders that prohibit specific gang members from congregating or engaging in a list of potential criminal or gang activities. Prohibitions can include showing gang signs, gathering with other members named on the injunction or being out alone during the 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew within the target area.
Major cities began pursuing civil cases against gangs in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Long Beach Prosecutor Doug Haubert explained, but enforcing the injunctions had been tough.
“In a department of 1,000 officers,” Haubert said, “maybe three knew anything about an injunction.”
Without knowing who was included on the injunction, or whether they had been served, he said, officers couldn’t make arrests.
So in 2009, the LBPD began using Laserfiche software right in the officers’ patrol cars. The officers are able to see real-time information on gang members, including names and aliases, dates of birth, the terms of the injunction and proof that the gang member has been served. In the first four years, gang injunction arrests increased by 760%, Haubert said.
“Having data with who was on this injunction made it much easier for officers, “ he said. “It changes the effectiveness of the court order.”
What’s more, the technology saved lives.
“In the first year we used Laserfiche, we saw a 53% reduction in gang-related murders,” Haubert said.
Violating the terms of the injunction is only a misdemeanor, Haubert explained, but once the officer makes the arrest, he or she has the opportunity to prevent more serious crimes.
“Once you arrest that person, you get into that person’s pockets, and you get the guns, the drugs, et cetera,” he said.
The injunction data software was so effective, Haubert said, that the LBPD and Laserfiche partnered on similar software to enforce stay away orders.
A stay away order is something that a judge uses in order to keep a criminal away from a specific location in the city. This could be applied for people who loiter in the same place repeatedly, a shoplifter who frequents a particular shopping area, or someone who deals drugs or engages in other illegal activities specific to a certain place. If a stay away order is being violated, officers can make an arrest.
“Every city has people who commit crime at the same locations over and over,” Haubert said.
But previously, stay away orders issued by judges have been difficult to enforce. Now, Laserfiche has created software that issues a daily report with names, photos and the specific part of the city or even a specific business or apartment complex from which the person is banned.
LBPD Detective Christopher Zamora has worked closely with the prosecutor’s office and Laserfiche on both projects.
“The Laserfiche tools incorporate person-based policing, location-based policing, and officer safety,” Zamora said. “We needed a system that would work in a car, in a dark alley.”
“We are really doing something with them,” Haubert said, “We’re solving a problem every community has. I think this is really significant, and they are great partners.”
The LBPD, the prosecutor’s office and Laserfiche are continuing to build on that partnership. The next target: reducing human trafficking.
In the meantime, Laserfiche’s role in developing police software earned Wacker the IMPACT Award — the Long Beach prosecutor’s office’s way of honoring people who make positive, significant contributions to the city — earlier this year.
“I don’t know why they give me credit for it,” he said. “I don’t deserve it, to tell you the truth. We just do a job for them — that’s all we do.”
But, he added, it feels pretty good to know Laserfiche’s innovations have saved lives along the way.
Jennifer Rice Epstein can be reached at email@example.com.