The hobby of a Horseshoe Bay police officer could end hours of paperwork for law enforcement departments across the state — as it already does in this community on the southern shores of Lake LBJ. An app developed by Officer Jeramy Gristy is now being used by his department to reduce a months-long process of compiling and reporting racial profiling figures to just a few seconds.
Gristy was awarded the Police Chief’s Citation Award for his achievement at a recent City Council meeting, where he said he is willing to share with others as long as the Horseshoe Bay Police Department gets the credit.
“I’d definitely share that with other agencies that need it as long as Chief Rocky Wardlow is OK with that, too,” Gristy said.
Racial profiling is defined as the practice of detaining an individual based on their perceived race or ethnicity. Every police department in the state is required to file racial profiling reports to the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement.
Reports are based on traffic stops conducted by officers. Most police departments use what looks like time cards. Information is entered by hand and then either typed into a computer or submitted to someone else in the department to enter. That data is then compiled and sent to the commission.
“Someone has to tally out the cards,” Gristy said. “It takes five full 12-hour shifts and 60 hours to complete.”
Gristy modified the codes to existing law enforcement software to add the racial profiling data the commission wants. Officers are asked to keep track of the gender, race, and ethnicity each person stopped as well as the location of the stop. They must also give an explanation for the stop and the reason for any searches that follow.
“You’re looking at sitting down and crunching information,” Gristy said. “Using this app, you’re done in seconds.”
Horseshoe Bay officers began using the app in January. They punch in the data in real time using electronic tablets.
“They can pull over and go through the list of information here and select something from the drop-down menu,” Gristy continued.
Once the officer hits send, the data on that stop is sent to the Horseshoe Bay secure server, where Wardlow can review the submission.
“The chief has an app that takes it and compiles it into a report,” Gristy said. “This year’s report is 22 pages front and back. He takes this report and enters the information to TCOLE.”
State law enforcement officials were so impressed by Horseshoe Bay’s report that they contacted the chief to tell him it was the best they had ever seen. Officials asked if they could use the report as an example for other police departments to follow.
Writing software and code is a hobby for Gristy. He has developed friendships with other coders around the world through his work, but as much as he enjoys it, he said being a police officer is what he loves.
“I love to help people,” he said. “I want to thank everyone, especially my chief for giving me the opportunity for my software to be used and for allowing me to do this for our officers to make it easier.”