Tag Archives: case management

Managing Major Cases Part Four: Operational Structures

In the first chapters of this series, Managing Major Cases, I focused on what defines a major case… and what are some of the unique problems associated with different major case ‘types’. For reference, you can find our previous chapters below:

Managing Major Cases: Part One

Managing Major Cases: Part Two

Managing Major Cases: Part Three

In this chapter, I want to overview the operational structure of Major Case Management.

The Command Triangle

Many Commonwealth countries (and some larger US jurisdictions) define Major Case Management roles within what’s called a “Command Triangle”. Specifically, per the diagram below, jurisdictions within countries such as Great Britain, and Canada define three (3) primary roles – a Major Case Manager who is responsible for the effective governance of the investigation, a Primary Investigator who reports to the Major Case Manager, and a File Coordinator who is responsible for coordination for internal communication and case file management.

Let’s take a look at the responsibilities of each role:

MCMT

 

As part of this Command Triangle, the Major Case Manager is accountable for the overall investigation. He or She determines investigation strategies, identifies and manages investigative resources, conducts case reviews, and all other high-level management functions.

The Primary Investigator typically reports to the Major Case Manager and is responsible for tasks including preparation of the case file for status meetings, ensuring that assignments are completed in a timely fashion, identification of resources required for the investigation, and report any major case updates to the Major Case Manager.

Also reporting to the Major Case Manager is the File Coordinator. Their job is also multi-faceted, and includes tasks such as scrutinizing the documents created during the process of the investigation to ensure the completeness and quality, ensuring that tips and leads are assigned and managed, ensuring the security of the case file(s), ensuring that all case actions are logged into the investigative case management software, and more.

Within these three roles are any number of supervisors and line staff that perform interviews, collect evidence, communicate with the media, and so on. Not to beat a dead horse here, but I’ll point out again that all of these roles may be performed by just a few people in some jurisdictions.

The Command Triangle vs. The Major Case Framework

I believe in The Command Triangle model but also strongly support a more US-centric model – The Major Case Framework. Perhaps the differences are subtle, but a Triangle is a hard shape with defined lengths and known, predictable angles. A Framework, however, is just that – a frame which, by nature, allows for additional flexibility than a hard shape. A frame is designed to support a structure, not confine it.

It’s this flexibility that makes the Major Case Framework ideally suited for the U.S. market. By that, I mean there are 200 or 300 law enforcement agencies in Canada, the majority of which have dozens or hundreds of officers. Down here, there are over 18,000 law enforcement agencies ranging in size from NYPD (More than 50,000 Officers) to Frenchtown, New Jersey (3 Officers). This type of variance requires the flexibility of a framework.

So, what is the Major Case Framework?

As noted in discussing The Command Triangle, managing major cases generally consists of organizational groups that perform different, but equally important, roles. The Major Case Framework, however, better recognizes the true nature of investigations by acknowledging from the outset that many, and sometimes all, of the roles are performed by only a small number of individuals and that role flexibility is part of day to day investigation work.

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There are four main organizational groups within the Major Case Framework. They are defined as:

  1. Command: Personnel who establish standard operating procedures, guidelines, and policies, along with the direction that ensures departmental compliance with mandates and laws. The responsibility for the specific directions that a MCM Team takes falls into the hands of those in the Command role. Some examples of Command roles include Chiefs of Police, Sheriffs, Task Force Commanders, and Commissioners.
  2. Command Staff: Personnel who are charged with the high-level implementation of the policies driven by those in the Command role. CID unit heads, divisional Captains, and task force Directors are examples of the roles that fall into this group.
  3. Supervisor: Personnel who manage, control, and direct the actual resources of the MCM Team. There are any number of ranks that fill this important role, including Lieutenants and Sergeants, but – in general – the Supervisor is the individual who holds responsibility for the actual control of the personnel involved in the daily activities of the investigation.
  4. Line/Support: Personnel who perform the day to day tasks related to the investigation. These are the Detectives, Investigators, Technicians, Deputies, Analysts, and a host of other titles that are working the investigation at the ground level. The success of this organizational group.

As noted in the MCM Framework diagram, in many organizations ‘Commanders’ will find themselves performing Line/Support functions, and Supervisors will often find themselves doing the roles defined in ‘Command Staff’. American Law Enforcement, particularly small and medium-sized agencies and task forces, require the flexibility of the framework in order to succeed.

It is important that any agency’s case management systems and processes allow for the flexibility of both the Command Triangle and the Command Framework.

In Part Five of this series, I’ll examine the topic of “What Do Investigators Do?”

New Doug4Douglas 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.

 

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.

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.

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.

Big Data Policing – Pieces of Needles across Many Haystacks

A new solution for big data policing is answering the question “Can my agency afford big data policing?“. Strategic partners Visallo™ and Case Closed Software™ have built an affordable alternative to the types of solutions sold by Palantir Technologies™, IBM, and other massive tech companies.
The Visallo | Case Closed offering is the only affordable alternative for law enforcement agencies who know that the practice of crime analysis and criminal investigations management can be much worse than looking for a needle in a haystack. It’s actually pieces of needles hidden across many haystacks.
Finding those pieces and putting them together requires a metal detector and soldering gun. Visallo is the metal detector. Case Closed Software is the soldering iron.
Download our Pieces of Needles and Many Haystacks synopsis now, and contact us through the form below for more information:


 

Case Management: Changing 'Overwhelm' to 'Overperform'

Posted by Audrey Rodgers, Customer Success Manager at Case Closed Software
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Law Enforcement Agencies today have to deal with a vast amount of information, both in physical and digital formats. Five new cases just fell into your hands today…. Those cases go with the other twenty you have already been assigned. BAM!
It’s clear that you have more than your share of work to do. Many detectives might find this a bit overwhelming and stressful, but with a bit of planning, and a great tool, you will be well on your way to keeping track of all twenty-five cases.
imageedit_12_9184783838Case Closed Software has all the functionality to assist you in that process:

  • Tracking your Cases
  • Approval Process
  • Master Name and Address database with address verification
  • Tips and Informants
  • Internal Communications via chat and email
  • Web-based Remote Case Reviews

In serving the public safety software industry for over a decade, Case Closed has heard a number of request from different departments across the country. Primary among those is the fact that Investigators do not want to be records managers, or state reporting clerks. They merely want to solve crimes.
The Case Closed application provides exactly what any law enforcement detective division needs. While other vendors focus on Records Management Systems (RMS) and Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) software with some ‘case management’ thrown in as an afterthought, Case Closed is focused SOLELY on case management and comprehensive investigative analytics.
No other system offers more at such an attractive price point. For more information on Case Closed Software, please visit us 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.

The benefits of investigation case management software

You needn’t be a criminal investigator for particularly long before beginning to feel overwhelmed. Even the most seasoned detectives can be torn between competing priorities such as internal briefings, public scrutiny, phone calls, emails, and the general business that police officers experience every day.
Causing even more grief – and consuming additional time and resources – are the routine tasks of managing investigation case files, documents, interviews, supplemental reports, as well as preparing for DA meetings, court dates, and so on. The manual effort of attempting to locate specific pieces of evidence or paper documents, and then trying to determine how they fit together and disseminating the conclusions is massive.
Managing a criminal investigation becomes more and more difficult each day, given the sheer amount of information generated. Evidence and clues must be garnered from things such as call detail records, body cam video, crime scene photos, arrest records, calls for service data, search warrant results, physical evidence management, and so on… and they all combine to make management of individual cases nearly impossible without the appropriate resources
In an era where senior law enforcement officials are being asked to do ‘more’ with ‘less’, however, those resources can rarely come by way of additional staff. Instead, there are technology solutions, thankfully, that ease the pain that lies in the process of managing criminal investigations.
Investigation Case Management Software (ICMS) such as Case Closed Software provides investigation units with a solution that reduces the paper chase, keeps everything in order, and helps investigators close more cases, more quickly. Case Closed is also available via the cloud with Case Closed Cloud.
From a resource utilization perspective, effective ICMS automates the time-consuming tasks of:

  • Storing and retrieving documents such as witness statements, complaints, and supplemental reports
  • Locating and managing important audio and video files
  • Tracking physical evidence
  • Effectively communicating with counterparts
  • Keeping up with assigned tasks
  • Managing incoming tips and leads
  • Developing and understanding connections across incidents and cases
  • And much, much more.

From a productivity perspective, the benefits are also wide and varied:

  • ICMS saves everything in real time. Detectives never have to worry about losing important documents.
  • Allows case data to be entered anywhere – in the office, in the field, or at home.
  • Makes everything searchable. People. Places. Things… everything is cross-indexed and easily ‘findable’.
  • Provides real-time alerts to notify agents when and if information matches something already in the system.
  • Generates standard reports with a few keystrokes based on information in the system.
  • Easy preparation for internal status update meetings.
  • Allows investigators to share case files internally – or externally to the DA.
  • Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera!

Many agencies are still operating investigations on paper files or antiquated, unfriendly systems because they believe the cost of implementing ICMS is prohibitive. Nothing could be further from the truth. The cost of effective software is now well within reach of the vast majority of law enforcement agencies. More importantly, the benefits far outweigh these costs.
Spend less. Solve more cases. Case Closed Software. Download a free brochure.

Tennessee county turns to Case Closed for investigation management

(March 27, 2017) Case Closed™ Software, a division of crime fighting software leader Crime Tech Solutions, LLC, announced today that they have signed contract with a large well-known and historic county in Tennessee.
tennesseeThe mid-sized Sheriff’s Department in the Volunteer State chose Case Closed Software after a long, thorough search for a solution provider capable of delivering “a feature-rich, affordable solution for managing investigations and the investigative unit”. The core modules of the software include Investigative Case Management, Link Analysis, Confidential Informants Management, Property & Evidence, Gang Tracking, and Departmental Reporting. According to a company spokesperson, the software also includes a mobile application for investigators in the field, and real-time alerting designed to help agencies solve crimes faster.
Case Closed Software said that the solution is being installed immediately, and that the agency will be fully implemented by April 30, 2017.
For more information on Case Closed, visit www.caseclosedsoftware.com
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