The downside to copy and paste
As much time as I spend on computers, it's really hard to imagine life without the Clipboard. Copy/Cut/Paste is such a handy feature I couldn't begin to calculate how much time and effort it's saved me. However, it's definitely caused me some problems. Mainly in cases where I've been filling in boilerplate information in templates, I've copied and pasted stuff I shouldn't, or forgotten to replace stuff. Two times in particular come to mind but personally, when it comes to client material or stuff that I'm going to publish, I've sworn off copy/paste completely. It's too easy to use a template from scratch (and ensuring beforehand the template is as empty as possible and uses consistent terms I can search for at the end to ensure I've removed them all). In one case, I had material on the clipboard that didnt' belong there. In the other, I was copying and pasting over an existing document and didn't replace everything correctly, after all it 'looked right'. I ended up with a lot of egg on my face in both cases and it made such an impression, I've fundamentally changed how I work with boilerplate stuff.
I was reading this today and just cringed because I've been there myself. The stuff I screwed up was not anywhere near this important and didn't cause as much damage as this does, but man, it's an easy thing to do until you get burned:
Anyone with a computer probably has cut and pasted sentences or paragraphs while using a word-processing program. The shortcut can save time and simplify a tedious project.
However, when a police officer uses the same technique on a report, it can get messy. Or worse, illegal.
Critics of the practice call cutting and pasting police reports "dangerous" and say it puts the integrity of law enforcement at risk. Others say the technique can be used effectively in certain situations, such as using one report as a template for another and maintaining accuracy.
The issue resurfaced in East Contra Costa earlier this month when a Pittsburg police officer testified in court that he cut and pasted one portion of a witness account onto another in a felony hit-and-run case.
The revelation came three years after two former Pittsburg police officers were convicted of intentionally falsifying drug arrest reports dozens of times in a similar manner. After their termination and six-month home detention, and an internal and independent review, the police chief instituted a new report-writing program that includes software preventing officers from using some cut-and-paste techniques.
"It's a shortcut and I shouldn't have done it," Officer Daniel Pratt said in his recent testimony, before apologizing on the stand.
Read the rest here
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