Tag Archives: investigative case management

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.

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.

August 21, 2018 UPDATE: UNFORTUNATELY, THE BODY OF MOLLIE TIBBETTS WAS FOUND TODAY. MAY SHE REST IN PEACE.

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.
 

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.

Case Closed Cloud™ Announces Large U.S. Federal Contract

(January 22, 2018) Washington, DC – Case Closed Software® announced today that a large US Federal Government Executive Department has selected Case Closed Cloud™ as its next-generation investigative case management platform.

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The Department, with over 50,000 employees, is involved in investigating criminal cases and enforcing industry compliance in conjunction with their counterparts in all 50 U.S. States.

Case Closed Cloud is an innovative new Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) investigation management platform from Crime Tech Solutions, LLC – a leading provider of software to law enforcement, state agencies, and other investigative agencies.

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“Case Close Cloud is an innovative new offering, and is already disrupting the case management industry”, said Douglas Wood, the company’s founder and chief executive. “This new customer chose us specifically for our unparalleled feature set, and because they can begin using the system without any significant upfront costs or IT requirements.”

Case Closed Software offers its software in both ‘on-premise’ and ‘cloud-based’ deployments, meaning that customers can quickly deploy the functionality in the manner that best suits their business requirements.

“The five year contract gives the customer access to our full suite of case management and big data investigation analytics”, added Mehul Panchal, Case Closed Software’s chief technology officer.

Case Closed Software® Announces Cloud Version of Industry Leading Investigation Case Management Software.

November 29, 2017 (Austin, TX)   Case Closed Software®, a leader in the development of investigation software for law enforcement and commercial agencies, today announced the upcoming availability of Case Closed Cloud™, a software-as-a-service (SaaS) version of the company’s industry-leading investigative case management software.
The new offering comes on the heels of the company’s recent announcement regarding a strategic partnership with big data investigation analytics provider, Visallo®, to become the only true alternative to investigation software offered by large multinationals and Silicon Valley ‘unicorns’.
Case Closed Software is widely deployed in North America and abroad, and is generally considered to be the most feature-rich investigation platform available on the market.

“The time is right for a hybrid cloud-based investigation management platform. The software can either be accessed via the cloud or installed on premise.”

“The new version is designed to be hosted either in our secure cloud or behind the customers’ firewall”, said Douglas Wood, President of Case Closed Software. “More than half of all law enforcement agencies in the U.S. already use some type of cloud-based technologies, and the time is right for a true cloud-based investigation management platform. Through the Case Closed Cloud delivery model, our clients can access the software on any device, from any location. Customers can expect to see lower upfront costs, reduced infrastructure requirements, and a much faster deployment model.”
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According to the company, Case Closed Cloud is extremely secure, and allows agencies to manage, investigate, and close more cases, more quickly. The platform is designed to integrate with existing systems, both internal and external, that assist investigators in gathering the information that helps them throughout the investigative process.
Case Closed Cloud is developed using cutting-edge technologies, and includes specialized functionality for investigation workflow management, task and assignment support, ad hoc reporting, integrated visual link analysis, high powered big data and text analytics, confidential informant management, evidence and property tracking, a gang database module, and much more.

We expect to be live with our first SaaS customers before the end of the year.

“Case Closed is designed by former law enforcement investigators, specifically for this market”, added Tyler Wood, the company’s Director of Operations. “Over the past year, we have been approached several times by customers and business partners looking for us to deliver our functionality via the cloud.  We expect to be live with our first SaaS customers before the end of the year.”
The company said that Case Closed Cloud allows organizations to quickly implement and utilize the investigation management solution without large upfront licensing fees, and with less strain on IT resources.
About Case Closed Software
imageedit_12_9184783838Case Closed Software is the Texas-based leader in delivering investigation software to law enforcement and other investigation agencies. Developed by former law enforcement officials, the company’s software is used by dozens of agencies across the U.S. and beyond for investigation management, criminal intelligence, and powerful investigation analytics. For more information, visit https://www.caseclosedsoftware.com

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.