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Managing Major Cases: Part One

This is Part 1 of a series dedicated to the science (and art) of  managing Major Criminal Cases in law enforcement. In order to begin a discussion on this subject, though, it’s important to define what makes an investigation a Major Case Investigation in the first place.

My friend, Chief Dan McDevitt, defines a Major Case in his popular book ‘Major Case Management: A Guide for Law Enforcement Managers‘ as follows:

“A Major Case is a real or suspected crime of such severity that it creates an intense public demand for identification, apprehension, and prosecution of the offender(s).”

– Chief Daniel McDevitt

Irrespective of how your own definition may vary from Chief Dan’s, this much is simple; Major Cases are serious criminal matters. The degree of ‘seriousness’, however, is almost entirely relative. A stabbing in Chicago may not, by itself, be ‘serious’ as viewed by the public at large. Conversely, a sexual assault on a small University Campus may be extremely ‘serious’.

Make no mistake… neither are good or acceptable, and both are, of course, unthinkable violations. The point here is that cases may be Major Cases (or not) by virtue of the relative socio-economic environment in which they are being investigated.

Attributes of a Major Case. You probably have a Major Case when..

All of that said, there are several attributes which are common in major case investigations:

  1. Resource Requirements – The amount of resources that an investigation unit must devote to a Major Case is substantial… far more than the average investigative case. This would include additional officers, overtime, forensics work, and the like. If your budget is shot in one fell swoop… you probably have a Major Case on your hands.
  2. Big Brother is Watching – Maybe the Mayor is involved. Maybe the ACLU. Black Lives Matter? The NRA, even. Major Cases are often associated with major non-law enforcement interest from groups claiming to be stakeholders. If Al Sharpton, Wayne LaPierre, or AG Jeff Sessions have chimed in… you probably have a Major Case on your hands.
  3. All Hands on Deck – Major Cases tend to redefine titles and organizational roles. Many of the Chiefs and Sheriffs I have interviewed on this topic describe pulling all types of duty assignments. Patrol officers become Detectives, who become Media Relations, and so on. If the chief cook is washing bottles… you probably have a Major Case on your hands.
  4. Media Attention – Many Major Cases capture the attention of the public and, subsequently, the media. In many cases, a local case can turn viral and suddenly there’s a CNN mobile satellite truck parked outside. What makes an investigation viral isn’t always clear, but it’s discussed HERE in some detail. If Wolf Blitzer calls your investigation ‘Breaking News’… you probably have a Major Case on your hands.
  5. There are Multiple Jurisdictions Involved – Because of the possible complexities of Major Cases, they quite often involve multiple agencies. Task Forces are regularly utilized in Major Cases, and are comprised of any number of people from across different law enforcement agencies, making the problem of staying organized even harder. Perhaps the City PD is working to support the local Sheriff’s Office – or vice versa. Maybe the State Bureau of Investigation is involved. Maybe the FBI. If you need ‘Hello My Name Is…” stickers during your case review… you probably have a Major Case on your hands.

Having placed some parameters around what defines a Major Case, we will look deeper into the unique problems associated with these types of investigations. Stay tuned for Part Two of this series.

Douglas Wood is CEO of Crime Technology Solutions | Case Closed Software, a leading provider of serious investigation software to law enforcement, state bureaus, DA offices, and other investigative units. Doug can be reached directly HERE.

 

Investigation Software: Sunshine through the Cloud

As we have noted in previous posts, “The Cloud” is one of those terms that seem intimidating to the uninitiated. You hear about it all the time, yet many people aren’t quite sure what it is, exactly. This misunderstanding of technology is seen in all sorts of environments, from business to law enforcement.
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This is especially unfortunate in the world of law enforcement because using cloud-based solutions can enhance productivity, foster better communication between agencies, and reduce operating costs. Simply put, law enforcement must adapt to this internet-based technology or be left in the 20th century.
Traditionally, police data has been kept in separate hubs referred to as “siloes”. Each type of task a law enforcement officer performs may require accessing data from a different silo. For example, a detective may need to access arrest records and phone records from two different places. With cloud-based solutions, police can access or submit data from any device that is linked to a single central hub. This cuts out a ton of unnecessary clerical work and leaves law enforcement with more time and resources to actually enforce the law.
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Accessing crucial data from mobile devices allows officers to be more situationally aware as well, which increases officer safety. Additionally, rather than hosting their own servers and maintaining physical records of data, agencies can spend just a fraction of the cost for access to servers hosted off-site, in the cloud, without forfeiting any ease of access.
The cloud is also becoming less cost prohibitive. Cloud services are not only becoming less expensive, but the ability to pay for only the data that is used is an advantage for agencies that previously had to guess how much bandwidth or server space they would need. Additionally, ease of access to security updates keeps vital information secure from malicious hackers who would access the data for nefarious purposes.
The cloud is the obvious solution for data storage in the 21st century. From business to law enforcement, organizations that utilize the cloud can be sure there are clear skies ahead.
Douglas Wood is CEO of Crime Technology Solutions, LLC and Case Closed Software, a provider of on-premise and cloud-based investigation software for law enforcement and other investigative agencies.

Why some cases go viral. The case of Mollie Tibbets

BROOKLYN, Iowa — Mollie Tibbets, the 20 year old college student from the great state of Iowa has been missing since July 18th. The search is now well into week 3 after she disappeared while jogging in the area of Brooklyn, Iowa. Her case has hit headlines across the nation, and we have all seen her photo on our television screens over and over again.
First and foremost, we all certainly hope that Ms. Tibbets is found alive and well soon. Secondly, though, is the question of why cases such as hers go ‘viral’ while similar cases wallow in obscurity.
There are, according to most sources, somewhere around 100,000 people ‘missing’ in the United States at any given time. That’s the entire population of South Bend, Indiana. Approximately half of these missing persons are under the age of 21.
So, what makes a case such as Mollie Tibbets stand out from this crowd? Cynics would suggest that attractive, young, white females such as Ms. Tibbets garner more attention than other cases. A middle aged African American man who disappears is simply not as salacious and reportable a story, some might say.
Others would argue that cases such as Mollie Tibbets’ are newsworthy because they are uncommon. There seems to be a relatively small percentage of missing persons where the individual just disappears for no discernable reason, with no investigative leads, and with no good working theories. Perhaps this is true.
According to published data, almost 96 percent of missing persons in 2017 were runaways, and just one-tenth of a percent were abductions by strangers. Assuming (and we hope not) that Mollie Tibbets was abducted, that makes her case 1 in 1,000 as far as statistics go.
Factor in, also, that of all ‘missing persons’ under 21 years of age, just 53% are female, and of those, 57% are Caucasian. Suddenly Ms. Tibbets’ case is one of 30 in 100,000 at any given moment in this country.
The other things that separate these types of cases from the pack is the ability of family, friends, and law enforcement to raise public awareness. In the case of Mollie Tibbets, the reward for information leading to her discovery now tops $300,000.00. That type of reward is simply not accessible in the vast majority of missing persons cases.
Of major concern to family and friends of any missing person is the unfortunate fact that, in many states, it is not mandatory to report missing person cases to a national database designed specifically for the purpose of finding their loved ones. Perhaps that is a law that can be changed – and changed quickly.
In the meantime, we are left to wonder the whereabouts of Mollie Tibbets and 99,999 other missing persons. We hope for the best, and wish all of those cases could be as well publicized as this one.
 
Douglas Wood is CEO of Crime Tech Solutions | Case Closed Software, a provider of investigation software for law enforcement agencies around the globe.

Case Closed Software user HCSO featured on Investigation Discovery Network

When the sleepy town of Mooresburg, TN receives news that beloved teacher Margaret Jack Sliger is murdered on her farm, Hawkins County detectives are charged with finding the sinister perpetrator to bring their community justice.
ID Network (Investigation Discovery) recently aired an episode of the popular program “Murder Comes To Town” featuring Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) in Tennessee. The story surrounds the 2015 murder death of 79 year old Margaret Sliger in Mooresburg, TN and the 2 year effort to solve and prosecute the crime.
Case Closed Software® is proud to be the investigation case management software provider for HCSO, and to be associated with the agency.
If you subscribe to ID Network, you can view the episode HERE.
 

Large DA Office deploys IntelNexus™ from Crime Tech Solutions for Criminal Intelligence Management

Crime Tech Solutions deploys software suite at one of the nation’s largest District Attorneys offices.

(July 31, 2018) Crime Technology Solutions, LLC is very pleased to announce that one of the largest District Attorneys offices in the United States has selected them to provide sophisticated crime analytics and criminal intelligence management software. The deal, over a year in the making, will see Crime Tech Solutions provide software and services to the DA Office in support of their mission to provide the members of their community with a safe place to live by holding the guilty accountable, protecting the innocent, and preserving the dignity of victims and their families.

At the core of the solution, according to Crime Tech Solutions’ CEO Doug Wood, is the IntelNexus™criminal intelligence software. IntelNexus is an advanced intelligence database management system designed specifically for law enforcement and other investigative agencies to collect, organize, maintain, and analyze sensitive information about individuals, organizations, and their activities. Crime Tech Solutions is also deploying CrimeMap Pro™ to the DA Office. CrimeMap Pro is a crime analytics and predictive policing software suite that helps agencies better react to emerging crime patterns.

“Our customer investigates and prosecutes crime in their region and supports victims of crime. They have over 200 staff made up of prosecutors, victim advocates, paralegals, and other support staff”, said Mr. Wood. “The software we are providing will enable them to better serve their constituents, both now and in the future.”

Repost: Latest Trends in Law Enforcement Software

Editor’s Note: The following article was originally posted last year on the PoliceOne website. A year has passed, and we thought it warranted a re-post…

How law enforcement agencies are adopting cloud-based or Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) software solutions as part of the fight against crime

Over the course of five weeks in May and June of 2017, Case Closed Software conducted a short, online survey of US-based crime and intelligence analysts. We wanted to understand how law enforcement agencies are adopting cloud-based or Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) software solutions as part of the fight against crime.
We also wanted to get a sense of which software categories were currently being utilized via the cloud, and what the future holds in terms of future adoptions.
The anonymous survey had almost 200 respondents, from agencies varying in size from less than 15 sworn officers, right up to some of the largest law enforcement agencies in the country. The results were surprising. Here’s what we learned:

The results to the above question indicate that well over half of all agencies currently utilize SaaS or cloud-based software offerings for core functionality. This result ties in well with previous surveys which have indicated that upwards of 60 percent of law enforcement groups utilize the cloud in some meaningful manner.

Of the agencies that currently utilize cloud offerings, Records Management Systems, Computer Aided Dispatch, and Crime Analysis were the most common categories. Geospatial and Location-Based Technologies were also popular categories for cloud consumption. Interestingly, barely one in five agencies had chosen SaaS for either criminal intelligence management or investigation management.

Though the adoption of cloud technologies for criminal intelligence was low, almost three quarters of respondents indicated that their agency had a designated criminal intelligence analyst…

… and that cross-jurisdictional intelligence sharing was regarded as either ‘Very Important’ or ‘Pretty Important’ by 72 percent of the agencies that responded. Only 28 percent indicated that intelligence sharing was only ‘Somewhat Important’. None of the agencies indicated that intelligence sharing was ‘Not at All Important’.

Also of interest was the mismatch between the number of agencies with an intelligence analyst relative to the number of agencies using specific criminal intelligence software for that purpose. Less than one in five respondents indicated that they use software designed for that purpose.

When it came to understanding how agencies view Code of Federal Regulations 28 Part 23, results were mixed. 28 CFR Part 23 is a guideline for law enforcement agencies that operate federally funded multijurisdictional criminal intelligence systems. The guidelines include specific rules that govern the gathering, storage, and dissemination of criminal intelligence data.
As noted above, 72 percent of respondents indicated that their agency has a full time criminal intelligence analyst. Fully half of the respondents, however, had either not heard of 28 CFR Part 23 or viewed the regulations as “Not Important”.

When it came to defining the types of organizations being tracked as part of criminal intelligence, ‘Street Gangs’ were by far and away the leading group, indicated by over 80 percent of respondents. Half of the respondents indicated that they also traced Drug Rings, Organized Crime, and Fraud Networks.  Human Trafficking and Organized Retail Crime were also notable results. The results for Terror Cells were low, but there may have been an overall and understandable reluctance to disclose this information on the survey.

Finally, in a rather unexpected result, 70 percent of respondents indicated that they would ‘Absolutely’ or ‘Probably’ consider using SaaS or cloud solutions for criminal intelligence management. Just 30 percent indicated that they would ‘Probably Not’ or ‘Definitely Not’ consider using a SaaS or cloud offering for tracking their criminal intelligence.
What does it all mean?
The results of the survey seem to indicate that law enforcement agencies are readily adopting cloud-based technologies for heavily-used functionality such as RMS, CAD, and Crime Analysis. Adoption of cloud-based Investigative Case Management and Criminal Intelligence tools lag behind, but the number is higher than expected.
Importantly, the results also indicate a disconnect between the high number of agencies that employ a designated criminal intelligence analyst versus the number of agencies that utilize purpose-built intelligence management software.
It was somewhat of a surprise to learn that only 50 percent of agencies either adhere to or plan to adhere to CFR 28 Part 23 guidelines. These results may not reflect reality, though, as it would not be fair to expect that rank-and-file analysts would be overly familiar with those guidelines.
Perhaps the biggest surprise was the fact that fifty percent of respondents believed that their agencies would consider a cloud-based criminal intelligence management system. Just a few years ago, it would have been very likely that the results were heavily skewed against it. The advancement of cloud security, coupled with the cost benefits of utilizing SaaS, seem to have law enforcement agencies exploring all options in search of serving and protecting the public.


About the author
closed_2Douglas Wood is President and CEO of Texas-based Case Closed Software. His company provides investigation management and criminal intelligence software to law enforcement and other investigative agencies.
Mr. Wood is also Editor at Crime Tech Weekly, an information blogsite dedicated to discussions of law enforcement technologies.

Attack of the Drones

Police drones are becoming more and more commonly utilized by law enforcement agencies across the world. As of 2017 there were 347 American police departments using unmanned aerial technology. This number represents a 518% increase over a two year time period. Police are quickly catching on to how drone technology can help make police work easier and safer.
police-droneOne of the ways drones are being utilized is in surveillance. Drones have the ability to reach vantage points that would either be impossible for an officer to reach, or expose the officer to danger. A drone can get to a great vantage point without having to compromise the safety of an officer. This ability is especially useful in an active shooter scenario, where the lives of the law enforcement officers are on the line.
Being able to view and assess threats remotely not only minimizes risk, but allows police to formulate a strategy. Drones can also minimize risk to bystanders. If a suspect were to commit a crime then run into a crowd of people, a drone would be able to track the suspect through the crowd rather than have officers run after and risk harm to an innocent bystander. The video footage from the droid can make an important addition to an investigation case management platform.
Drones are also being used in crime scene analysis. By combining drone technology with 3D mapping technology, police are able to make a navigable rendering of the crime scene based on aerial photographs. This can be used to recreate scenarios such as traffic accidents, or to search for previously unnoticed details in a crime scene.
police-drones-latimes-2011Search and rescue missions are also aided by drone technology. When lives are on the line, time is of the essence. A drone can cover large areas in a short amount of time, and with a thermal imaging camera attached, it can more easily spot a person than human eyes can – especially in the dark. Drones can also be used to monitor large crowds, not only to observe any possible criminal actions, but also to see if any person in the crowd needs medical assistance but cannot signal for it.
Drones are an extremely useful technology and are only becoming better and more affordable. Law enforcement can utilize them not only to better prevent crime, but to reduce the risk that officers take in the field every day. And in a situation where officers are putting their lives on the line, it’s good to have a friend than can fly.

Multi-Jurisdiction Drug Task Force in TN Implements Case Closed Cloud™

tennessee(April 10, 2018) Austin, TX – A large, multi-jurisdictional drug and violent crimes task force in Tennessee is battling the opioid epidemic with the help of Case Closed Cloud™ Software. The CJIS-Compliant investigation case management software includes a fully-featured Gang Database and functionality for managing Confidential Informants.
Of special interest to the Judicial Drug and Violent Crimes Task Force is the functionality for task force members – irrespective of Agency – to access the software on any device and from any location.
surveillance“Task force members can easily add gang members for review, gang events, scars/marks/tattoos, and a host of other important information for the purpose of battling drugs and gangs”, said a Case Closed Software spokesperson.
The software helps ensure individual gang members’ civil liberties are not violated through a rigid ‘member approval’ process, and an automated purging process.
“Case Closed Cloud helps the task force organize their efforts, collect vital intelligence, and investigate crimes across jurisdictions”, said the spokesperson.
For more information on Case Closed Cloud, please click HERE.

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