Category Archives: criminal intelligence

Managing Major Cases Part Two: What puts the ‘Major’ in Major Cases?

In Part One of this series, I provided my definition of Major Cases and went into some detail about some of the attributes that differentiate a Case from a Major Case. Moving ahead now, I want to take a look at the different ‘types’ of Major Cases.

One of the problems in dealing with Major Cases is that, because of the varying types of cases, there’s no firm blueprint for investigating them. Major Cases move in real time, and – based upon interviews I have conducted with Major Case Investigators – can generally fall into one of two categories – Single Incidents and Multiple (serial) Incidents.

This article tackles Single Incident Major Cases.

Single incident Major Cases are defined by one single criminal act so abhorrent to the socio-economic environment, that it alone creates intense pressure to apprehend the perpetrator(s). What makes the incident so abhorrent ranges from factors such as:

The identity of the victim: In September of 1996, at the height of tensions between The Bloods and The Crips, a 25 year old African American man is shot in a drive-by shooting on the streets of Las Vegas and dies a few days later. Unfortunately, young black men die far too frequently in times of gang tensions, and few of these cases ever elevate to the status of a Major Case. The victim here, however, was Tupac Shakur.

Tupac was an American rapper and actor who came to embody the 1990s gangsta-rap aesthetic, and was a key figure in the feud between West Coast and East Coast hip hop artists. Simply put… he was famous as hell. Hence, a far-too-routine shooting became a Major Case in the blink of an eye. The case remains unsolved.

The identity of the suspect(s): “We the jury in the above entitled action find the defendant, Orenthal James Simpson, not guilty of the crime of murder.” Thus ended the double murder trial of former NFL player and Heisman Award winner OJ Simpson. In what was deemed ‘The Trial of the Century”, Simpson had been charged with the June 13, 1994 killings of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ron Goldman.

After weeks of testimony, and a clear nation-wide division between those who believed Simpson to be innocent and those who believed him guilty, Simpson was acquitted of the murders on October 3, 1995.

While the case of two relatively young and affluent Caucasians being killed in the generally safe area of Brentwood may have been newsworthy, it was the identity of the suspect that was the catalyst in this becoming one of the most famous single-incident Major Cases in American history.

The location of the crime: When a half-naked corpse, covered in cuts, bruises and bite marks, is found behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York’s Central Park, you have the makings of a Major Case. The corpse was that of 18-year-old Jennifer Dawn Levin. Levin was murdered during the early morning hours of August 26, 1986.

The ‘Met’, as the museum is known, is one of the most-visited and famous museums on the entire planet. Murders don’t happen in world-famous places like this, and the case became the top story on the evening news for months and months. That is one major single-incident Major Case.

After an investigation into what the press dubbed “The Preppie Murder”, college student Robert Chambers was charged and tried for murder. The jury, however, remained deadlocked for nine days and a plea bargain was struck. (Chambers’ defense, you may recall, was that he had killed Ms. Levin during consensual ‘rough sex’.)

The uniqueness of the crime itself: Six year old girls in upscale Colorado neighborhoods aren’t supposed to die. They’re certainly not supposed to be murdered… especially in their own home while the rest of the family slept. Uniqueness has always surrounded the December, 1996 killing of young beauty queen JonBenét Ramsey in Boulder, CO.

On the morning of December 26, 1996, John Ramsey found his daughter’s body with duct tape over her mouth and a cord twisted around her neck in the basement of the family home. John’s wife, Patsy, says she found a ransom note demanding $118,000 for JonBenét’s return – an amount that is purported to match exactly a recent work-related bonus that John Ramsey had received. Despite these odd circumstances, the couple retained lawyers and were not formally interviewed by police for over 4 months. (The case has never been solved, and Boulder Police have cleared the couple of any wrongdoing.)

Tragically, it’s estimated that over 1500 children are murdered each year in America. JonBenét’s case may have been just another number in that truly sad statistic were it not for unique circumstances that surrounded it; it occurred in an upscale neighborhood, the victim was a young beauty queen, the ransom note matching the bonus, a possible crime scene contamination by father John, and ‘seemingly’ uncooperative parents that made this a single-incident Major Case.

In Part Three of this series, we examine some examples and problems associated with Multiple Incident Major Cases.

 

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.

North Carolina county selects Case Closed Software for investigation management

(November 1, 2017)  Austin, TX – Case Closed Software™, a leading provider of investigation case management software to law enforcement agencies, today announced that a large North Carolina Sheriff’s Office has signed a multi-year contract for their best-in-class software.
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The Tar Hill State county, serving several hundred thousand residents, selected Case Closed Software after a nearly year-long search for sophisticated software that can help them work investigations more efficiently with a goal to close criminal cases more quickly.
According to Douglas Wood, President of Case Closed Software, the county selected his company’s offering due to the flexibility and overall feature set it offers.
“We’re thrilled to add this Sheriff’s Office to our delighted customer base”, said Mr. Wood. “One of the reasons we won the business is the fantastic references provided by our existing clientele, which include Police Departments, Sheriff’s Offices, State Investigation Bureaus, District Attorneys and more.”
Case Closed Software has begun implementation of the software and expects the County to be fully installed and trained by November 30, 2017.
Case Closed Software, who recently announced a strategic relationship with analytics software provider Visallo, develops and markets investigation management software, sophisticated investigation analytics, and advanced criminal intelligence software for law enforcement.

Big Data Surveillance: The Case of Policing

Posted by Douglas Wood, CEO of Case Closed Software – a leader in investigation software  and analytics for law enforcement.
Headquartered here in Central Texas, I recently had an opportunity to have coffee with Dr. Sarah Brayne, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology at The University of Texas at Austin. Ms. Brayne had just published an interesting article in The American Sociological Review. The article is titled Big Data Surveillance: The Case of Policing.
The article examines the intersection of two emerging developments: the increase in surveillance and the massive exploration of “big data.” Drawing on observations and interviews conducted within the Los Angeles Police Department, Sarah offers an empirical account of how the adoption of big data analytics does—and does not—transform police surveillance practices.
She argues that the adoption of big data analytics facilitates may amplify previous surveillance practices, and outlines the following findings:

  1. Discretionary assessments of risk are supplemented and quantified using risk scores.
  2. Data tends to be used for predictive, rather than reactive or explanatory, purposes. (Here, Crime Tech Weekly would want to differentiate between predictive analytics and investigation analytics)
  3. The proliferation of automatic alert systems makes it possible to systematically surveil an unprecedentedly large number of people.
  4. The threshold for inclusion in law enforcement databases (gang databases, criminal intelligence data, etc) is lower, now including individuals who have not had direct police contact. (Here again, Crime Tech Weekly would point out that adherence to criminal intelligence best practices vastly reduces this likelihood)
  5. Previously separate data systems are merged, facilitating the spread of surveillance into a wide range of institutions.

Based on these findings, Sarah develops a theoretical model of big data surveillance that can be applied to institutional domains beyond the criminal justice system. Finally, she highlights the social consequences of big data surveillance for law and social inequality.
The full PDF report can be downloaded via Sage Publishing by clicking here. Or, if you have general comments or questions and do not wish to download the full version, please feel free to contact us through the form below. Crime Tech Weekly will be happy to weigh in.

Big Data Investigation Analytics: A Difference Maker for Law Enforcement

How Investigative Agencies do More with Less!

The investigative units of law enforcement agencies all around the world face many of the same challenges. Chief among those challenges is the fact that budgets are tightening, while resources are becoming more and more scarce. Even in the face of reduced funding, investigators are asked to deliver higher levels of service in their quest to solve and deter crime.

The key to doing ‘more’ with ‘less’ in law enforcement is really no different than in any other industry. That is, deploying resources in the most effective manner possible for the maximum value possible. The trick is using what the agency already knows to determine what the future may hold. What that all boils down to is Big Data Investigation Analytics.

Data in Law Enforcement comes in many forms, and is typically stored in disparate silos. Arrest records, calls for service, criminal intelligence, field reports, human resource data, telephone records, case management files, and so on. Together, the data from those systems can represent a virtual goldmine of investigative information if used correctly.

gotbigdata‘Correctly’ is the operative term, of course. The ability to turn these large data stores into actionable investigation intelligence requires more than a simple data warehouse or data mining tool, and for the most part police departments recognize this need. They understand that their data holds the key to understanding the hidden connections between people, places, and things – the lynchpin of any successful investigation.

For years, law enforcement agencies and commercial organizations have built data mining tools and data warehouses. Unfortunately, these analytical techniques are no longer sufficient in an age of rapidly growing data. Moreover, much of the data that investigators need to access is unstructured text – word processing documents, narratives, search warrants, witness statements, email text, and more. By applying big data text analytics, investigators can begin to extract actionable insights from both structured and unstructured data.

VisalloBig Data Investigation Analytics – such as those provided by Virginia based Visallo and California’s Palantir Technologies – are two examples that provide a powerful indexing architecture allowing investigators to find non-textual data, including multimedia files such as 911 calls, interrogation videos, and images. This architecture helps investigators find things that they simply could not find otherwise.

Finally, world-class investigation analytics provide a flexible graph visualization tool, as well. This user interface allows investigators to organize data through a variety of layout options, find hidden and non-obvious relationships between entities, and perform a variety of what-if scenarios.

ctsWhen paired with the robust investigative case management and criminal intelligence systems available from Crime Tech Solutions, big data investigation analytics build a foundation upon which investigators can solve more crimes, more quickly.

Without advanced investigation analytics, agencies often find themselves looking for a needle in a haystack. In fact, too often the needle is broken into several pieces spread across multiple haystacks. To simplify these tasks, investigative agencies must deploy the correct analytical technologies which have become a key element of doing more with less in the global investigation market. For more information on how Crime Tech Solutions and Visallo are changing the law enforcement analytics landscape, please contact us below!

Crime Tech Solutions’ continued growth fuels management team expansion

September 13, 2016 – (Leander, TX)  Crime Tech Solutions, a fast-growing provider of low cost crime fighting software and analytics today announced the appointment of Kevin Konczal as Vice President of Sales. The company created the position in response to rapid growth in market share for crime analysis and investigative case management software.
aaeaaqaaaaaaaaecaaaajdixztq5zgfkltliodctndi4ns05ztfjltzhowyxymjhmmu5maMr. Konczal is a seasoned start-up and marketing expert with over 30 years of diversified business management, marketing and start-up experience in information technology and consumer goods. Additionally, Konczal has over two decades of Public Safety service as a police officer, Deputy Sheriff and Special Agent.
Most recently, he held the position as a Regional Sales Manager for TriTech Software Systems, a leading provider of public safety software.
“Kevin is a seasoned executive with a combination of public service and information technology expertise”, said Crime Tech Solutions’ chief technology officer Keith Weigand. “The management team is looking forward to adding his leadership within the sales organization.”
In addition to his executive career, Konczal serves on several advisory boards, commissions and boards of directors.  He attended Oakland College studying Criminal Justice and completed the Dallas Police Academy. Notably, he was awarded the Police Commendation Award for saving the lives of fellow officers in a deadly force cblack versiononfrontation.
“The exciting thing about Crime Tech Solutions”, added Konczal “is their clear position as a fast-growing company dedicated to low price and high performance software for law enforcement.”
“I’m looking forward to working with a company that delivers true value to customers with comprehensive investigative case management software, sophisticated link analysis tools, criminal intelligence management software, and crime mapping technology that includes what I think are the industry’s best analytics and reporting capabilities”, he added.
Earlier this year, Crime Tech Solutions acquired Tennessee based Case Closed Software (www.caseclosedsoftware.com).
About Crime Tech Solutions
Crime Tech Solutions (www.crimetechsolutions.com) is a fast-growing U.S. based provider of low cost / high performance investigation software and crime analytics. The company proudly supports the International Association of Crime Analysts (www.iaca.net), International Association of Chiefs of Police (www.iacp.org), the National Sheriff’s Association (www.sheriffs.org), and the association of Law Enforcement Intelligence Units (www.leiu.org).
The company’s products include Case Closed investigative case management software, link and social network analytics, 28 CFR Part 23 compliant criminal intelligence management software, enterprise search for law enforcement, and crime analytics with mapping, reporting, and predictive policing.

Crime Hot Spots and Risk Terrain Modeling

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A typical ‘hot spot’ in crime analytics

By Tyler Wood, Operations Manager at Crime Tech Solutions.
One of the many functions crime analysis performs is the identification of “hot spots”, or geographical areas that seem to be hubs for criminal activity. Identifying these hot spots through best practices in geospatial crime mapping allows law enforcement to focus their efforts in areas that need them most. The trouble that law enforcement and crime analysts have encountered is displacement – the fact that once a hot spot is “cleared”, crime seems to pop up again in a different location. The good news is that the displacement is never 100%, so policing hot spots is important – it’s just not a magic bullet.
To solve this problem, a team at Rutgers University’s School of Criminal Justice set out to develop new methodologies that would result in peaceful outcomes that are built to last instead of merely temporary.
The difference between the old approach and the new approach is stark. Where police and analysts used to focus solely on geographical concentration of crimes, Risk Terrain Modeling examines the factors that contribute to such dense concentrations to begin with. Rutgers team have identified several characteristics of any given geographical location which may attract or generate crime. Their technology takes these characteristics, which include socioeconomic data, physical layout, types of local businesses, etc… and uses them to calculate the likelihood crime occurring in the area. This allows law enforcement to be proactive in the prevention of crime in these areas.
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Advanced crime analytics show statistically significant risk factors.

The technique seems to be highly effective. After a trial run in New Haven, CT, police were able to identify sixteen “statistically significant risk factors that underlie violent crime occurrences.” A high percentage of violent crime in New Haven during the test period occurred in locations already identified by the concept of risk terrain modeling. Though the technology is still new, it is clearly showing impressive results already.
Shutting down hot spots is important policing, and risk terrain modeling technology allows analysts and law enforcement officers to be even more proactive in their prevention of crime.
The author, Tyler Wood, is head of operations at Austin, TX based Crime Tech Solutions – an innovator in crime analytics and law enforcement crime-fighting software. The clear price/performance leader for crime fighting software, the company’s offerings include sophisticated Case Closed™ investigative case management and major case management, GangBuster™ gang intelligence software, powerful link analysis software, evidence management, mobile applications for law enforcement, comprehensive crime analytics with mapping and predictive policing, and 28 CFR Part 23 compliant criminal intelligence database management systems.)