Tag Archives: law enforcement software

Case Actions: The Baseline for Productive Investigations.

Let’s face it… RMS software, by and large, is not designed for managing major cases. Agencies know it, and the RMS vendors know it. For them, the notion of managing the complexities of major case investigations is an afterthought at best.

(The answer I give to these inquiries, by the way, is that any good investigation management software should have capabilities to ingest data from other law enforcement products, including RMS).

The more important point, however, is recognizing that criminal investigators gather vasts amounts of information during the course of an investigation. Witness statements, interviews, interrogations, tips, leads, informant statements, audio files, video files, photos, and much more. Too often, agents must rely on their RMS systems which, per above, are not purpose-built for investigations. Investigators also rely heavily on paper files and file cabinets full of notes, search warrants, and physical evidence.

Fortunately, there is an alternative… purpose built investigation case management software that utilizes what I call ‘Case Actions’ as the underlying workflow. Case Actions are the individual actions that an investigation unit takes in pursuit of closing a case. Case Actions are expansive in nature, and include:

  • Crime Scene Visits
  • Interviews
  • Interrogations
  • Knock ‘n Talks
  • Surveillance
  • DNA
  • Search Warrants
  • Affidavits
  • Controlled Buys
  • Arrests

… and much, much more. You get the idea, though.

By effectively logging each Case Action in a particular Case, the investigators (and management) are able to quickly and visually recognize the status of the case, and what further actions should be taken. Each Case Action leads to new information… which leads to new Case Actions. And the beat goes on. Hopefully, sooner rather than later, enough information is garnered to close the case. That’s the power of Case Action based workflow.

WIth the Case Action based approach, each Case Action is tied to Persons, Locations, Vehicles, etc. As a result, robust dossiers of these things are built without the individual agent(s) even realizing it.

By utilizing an investigation case management solution that is based upon Case Actions, law enforcement can leverage information from previously-entered data such as telephone numbers, evidence items, addresses, persons, gang members, etc. The Case Actions feed themselves – and each other – to build a valuable repository of investigative information.

An example: A detective has received a tip that Doug Wood is involved in a particular criminal activity. By accessing her Case Action-based system, she quickly learns that Doug Wood has been a Suspect in Case 1 (belonging to an entirely different investigator), and a Witness in Case 2 (belonging to a third investigator).

She also learns (via Case Actions performed by the Gang Unit) that Doug Wood shares an address with a confirmed Gang Member and goes by the nickname ‘Woody’. She also sees Doug’s previous addresses, telephone numbers, work history, social media accounts and so on… each of which has been logged as part of completely unique Case Actions.

That is the power of Case Actions based investigation management software. Because each previous Case Action involving Doug Wood was logged, the current investigator has a goldmine of information at her fingertips.

Case Closed Software is the leading provider of Case Action based investigation case management software for law enforcement. Contact Us for a demo today!

Managing Major Cases Part Three: Multi-Incident Major Cases

In Part One of this series, I overviewed a generally-accepted definition of Major Cases, and discussed some of the attributes that define them.

In Part Two, I began to probe the ‘types’ of Major Cases – specifically, Single-Incident Major Cases. These are cases that may, under different circumstances, not be Major Cases but for the identity of the victim, the identity of the suspect, the location of the incident, and/or the uniqueness of the crime.

Here in Part Three, I want to discuss the second ‘type’ of Major Cases – Multi-Incident Major Cases and – specifically – the problems associated with trying to investigate a case while related crimes are still occurring. (Spoiler Alert: It’s stressful)

Based upon interviews I have conducted with CID Commanders, Sheriffs, District Attorneys, and other law enforcement experts, there are several types of Multi-Incident Major Cases. Based on the patterns of the crimes, Multi-Incident Major Cases are classified into three basic categories – Mass crimes, Spree crimes, and Serial crimes

Mass Crimes – A Major Case mass crime involves multiple victims at one location during one continuous period of time, whether it is done within a few minutes or over a period of days. The term ‘mass murder’ springs to mind, and invokes images of Dylann Roof(Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in South Carolina), James Holmes (2012 Aurora, CO. shooting in which he killed 12 people and injured 70 others at a movie theater), and James Loughner (2011 Tuscon, AZ shooting that killed 6 people and severely wounded US Representative Gabrielle Giffords).

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Dylann Roof, James Holmes, and James Loughner

There are other types of Major Case mass crimes, however, including mass assault, mass human smuggling, and other horrible crimes that need no further illustration here.

Spree Crimes – Spree criminals commit two or more serious crimes with two or more victims, but at more than one location. An important distinction about spree crimes is that there is no ‘cooling off’ period between the crimes.

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Mark Barton

An unfortunate example of a spree crime is that of Mark Barton. On July 29th, 1999, he walked into his office at Momentum Securities and opened fire, killing four people. Then he went next door to another company and killed five more people. Earlier in the day he had also murdered his wife and their two children. Multiple crimes in multiple locations with no cooling off.

 

Another example of a spree crime is the armed robber who hits a slew of pre-chosen banks on the same day, terrorizing employees in the process. The examples here are too numerous to mention, but they become Major Cases by virtue of their spree qualities. Again, this shows multiple crimes in multiple locations with no cooling off.

Serial Crimes – Serial criminals commit multiple crimes with multiple victims. Unlike spree criminals, however, serial criminals commit their crimes on distinctly separate occasions. There is a cooling off period between crimes.

Uniquely, serial criminals tend to plan their crimes meticulously and pre-select their victims and locations. Unlike mass crimes and spree crimes, serial crimes are differentiated in that the perpetrator tends to carefully select their victims, have cooling-off periods between crimes, and plan them carefully. Examples of serial criminals (especially serial killers) are far too easy to find and include The Zodiac Killer (in California in the late 1960s), Ted Bundy (confessed to killing 30 women), and Dennis Raider (The BTK Murderer who killed 10 people in Wichita between 1974 and 1991

A unique problem with Multiple Incident Major Cases

The major problem for law enforcement investigating Multiple Incident Major Cases, especially those that fall in the ‘serial’ category, is that new crimes are committed even as the investigation is underway. Resources can be stretched to their thinnest when a new crime is added to the serial list, and the public pressure for an arrest can overwhelm even the hardest of investigators. Hello, stress.

stress

A common attribute of the successful serial crime investigators that I have spoken with is their ability to separate the pressure from the work. The crimes and their timing are unpredictable, the public demand for a resolution is powerfully serious, and ‘interested parties’ (think politicians) are breathing down the investigators’ necks. That’s a lot of pressure.

Just as in any profession, untreated stress can lead to major consequences. These consequences not only affect the individual investigator, but also those with whom he or she has daily contact, including family and friends. The investigators I have spoken with help alleviate the pressure through:

  • Taking care of themselves physically,
  • Ensuring that workload is spread as evenly as possible, and
  • Taking time to partake in leisure and family.

(A quick point of clarity and a disclaimer: Any discussion around the differences between mass criminals, spree criminals, and serial criminals is going to be lively, and is an ongoing source for debate among criminologists. This posting will undoubtedly include characteristics and definitions that some readers may not entirely agree with.)

In Part 4 of this special series Managing Major Cases, I will examine the operational structures involved in managing major investigations.

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 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.

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 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

Must Read: The Rise of Big Data Policing

_KOK1002_RTCC+(3)Here’s an excellent, must-read article from Andrew Guthrie Ferguson, a Professor of Law at the UDC David A. Clarke School of Law and author of the book The Rise of Big Data Policing: Surveillance, Race, and the Future of Law Enforcement (NYU Press 2017).

“The big data policing revolution has arrived. The singular insight of this innovation is that data-driven predictive technologies can identify and forecast risk for the future. Risk identification is also the goal of this book — to forecast the potential problems of big data policing as it reshapes law enforcement.”

Read the full article HERE.

In the meantime, imageedit_12_9184783838Case Closed Software™ reminds you that, as the only true alternative to Palantir®, we specialize in big data investigation analytics combined with the industry’s most robust investigative case management solution.

We are “Palantir® without the price tag and data-lock”.

 

Contact us for more information below:

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.

Save a tree… Go digital for investigation case management!

 

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Time to move past paper files for case management. Case Closed Software: A tree’s best friend

 
paper filesPosted by Tyler Wood, Director of Operations at Case Closed Software.
Investigation Case Management (ICM) and Major Case Management (MCM) for law enforcement have always required a great deal of effort. Keeping track of every lead, every record, every relevant piece of information always takes time and manpower. Especially if the agency is stuck using paper-based files, cluttered file cabinets, and disorganized evidence rooms.
Modern case management technology allows the complex task of filing and organizing to be done in a simple piece of software, allowing the job to be done more quickly and with less risk of error. Unfortunately, many law enforcement agencies today are still using the traditional method of case management, even though a software approach has several distinct advantages:
Simplicity. Managing all the relevant paperwork and information for criminal investigations is labor intensive and susceptible to human error. A person must file all documentation such as witness reports, suspect information, crime scene reports, etc… into a file cabinet to be retrieved manually when needed. This creates a likelihood that something will eventually be placed in the wrong folder and an investigation could be weakened or compromised. A powerful case management software, however, will store all this data electronically on a central database. Data is able to be searched for and retrieved instantaneously by any authorized investigator. This streamlines the investigation process and makes document filing safer and less prone to error.
Cross-referencing. Paper copies of data, obviously, cannot be automatically searched through. If evidence from Investigation A happens to also be relevant to Investigation B, then with a traditional filing system and investigator would have to recall that information from memory then physically search through the files in order to find the relevant data. An electronic system will come with a powerful search function and the ability to cross reference against other investigation files with the click of a button. This allows law enforcement to more quickly gather relevant data.
In addition, law enforcement can also instantly share data between agencies. The sharing of data across agencies makes law enforcement across the nation more effective. Cross-referencing is a very important feature to have, especially when dealing with gangs and other organized crime in which evidence may be spread out among several related suspects.
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Control. Using a secure electronic case management system, a supervisor can know exactly who accessed which data at what time. They can limit access to certain investigators in order to keep prying eyes out of the files. These features let supervisors rest easy knowing that their case files are kept digitally under their control.
Law enforcement agencies in the 21st century cannot afford to live in the past as far as case management goes. The convenience, simplicity, powerful features, and security of an electronic case management system is invaluable to investigators across the globe. In a world where criminals are becoming increasingly reliant on cutting edge technology, law enforcement must also make use of technology to make sure they are combating crime as effectively as possible. The case is closed on that discussion.
For information on our feature-rich and affordable ICM and MCM technologies, please visit Case Closed Software.