Posted 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.
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.
The shine is most definitely coming off the Palantir® Technologies brand in law enforcement and investigative agencies. Here’s a link to a fascinating story about NYPD and Palantir, and how the former is kicking the latter to the curb. The power that Palantir has over its customers is down-right frightening.
Fear not, Palantir clients… Something big is happening HERE!
Crime Tech Solutions, LLC – a fast growing, vibrant software company based in Leander, TX today announced that a large, coastal city in California has selected them to provide sophisticated link and social network analysis software.
Crime Tech Solutions was awarded the contract based upon its price/performance leadership in the world of big data analytics for law enforcement and other investigative agencies.
Link analysis software is used by investigators to visualize hidden connections between people, places, and things within large and disparate data sets.
“Our link analysis software gives investigators an edge in the way they analyze data”, said Crime Tech Solutions’ CEO, Doug Wood. “By finding and displaying those hard to find connections and anomalies that reside in different data stores, our software helps investigative agencies more clearly see how networks of entities exist.”
Crime Tech Solutions said that the software implementation is already underway, and that the software will make life a little more miserable for criminals in the Southern California city.
The company also develops investigative case management and criminal intelligence software for law enforcement agencies of all sizes.
As a guide for those interested in criminal intelligence systems such as IntelNexus™, Crime Tech Weekly is publishing the following overview of Title 28, Part 23 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR 28 Part 23). The policy reads as follows:
CFR 28 PART 23–CRIMINAL INTELLIGENCE SYSTEMS OPERATING POLICIES
4. Operating principles.
5. Funding guidelines.
6. Monitoring and auditing of grants for the funding of intelligence systems.
The purpose of this regulation is to assure that all criminal intelligence systems operating through support under the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 are utilized in conformance with the privacy and constitutional rights of individuals.
It is recognized that certain criminal activities including but not limited to loan sharking, drug trafficking, trafficking in stolen property, gambling, extortion, smuggling, bribery, and corruption of public officials often involve some degree of regular coordination and permanent organization involving a large number of participants over a broad geographical area. The exposure of such ongoing networks of criminal activity can be aided by the pooling of information about such activities. However, because the collection and exchange of intelligence data necessary to support control of serious criminal activity may represent potential threats to the privacy of individuals to whom such data relates, policy guidelines for Federally funded projects are required.
(a) These policy standards are applicable to all criminal intelligence systems operating through support under the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968.
(b) As used in these policies: Criminal Intelligence System or Intelligence System means the arrangements, equipment, facilities, and procedures used for the receipt, storage, interagency exchange or dissemination, and analysis of criminal intelligence information; Inter-jurisdictional Intelligence System means an intelligence system which involves two or more participating agencies representing different governmental units or jurisdictions; Criminal Intelligence Information means data which has been evaluated to determine that it: (i) is relevant to the identification of and the criminal activity engaged in by an individual who or organization which is reasonably suspected of involvement in criminal activity, and (ii) meets criminal intelligence system submission criteria; Participating Agency means an agency of local, county, State, Federal, or other governmental unit which exercises law enforcement or criminal investigation authority and which is authorized to submit and receive criminal intelligence information through an inter-jurisdictional intelligence system. A participating agency may be a member or a nonmember of an inter-jurisdictional intelligence system; Intelligence Project means the organizational unit which operates an intelligence system on behalf of and for the benefit of a single agency or the organization which operates an inter-jurisdictional intelligence system on behalf of a group of participating agencies; and Validation of Information means the procedures governing the periodic review of criminal intelligence information to assure its continuing compliance with system submission criteria established by regulation or program policy.
4 Operating principles.
(a) A project shall collect and maintain criminal intelligence information concerning an
individual only if there is reasonable suspicion that the individual is involved in criminal conduct or activity and the information is relevant to that criminal conduct or activity.
(b) A project shall not collect or maintain criminal intelligence information about the political, religious or social views, associations, or activities of any individual or any group, association, corporation, business, partnership, or other organization unless such information directly relates to criminal conduct or activity and there is reasonable suspicion that the subject of the information is or may be involved in criminal conduct or activity.
(c) Reasonable Suspicion or Criminal Predicate is established when information exists which establishes sufficient facts to give a trained law enforcement or criminal investigative agency officer, investigator, or employee a basis to believe that there is a reasonable possibility that an individual or organization is involved in a definable criminal activity or enterprise. In an inter-jurisdictional intelligence system, the project is responsible for establishing the existence of reasonable suspicion of criminal activity either through examination of supporting information submitted by a participating agency or by delegation of this responsibility to a properly trained participating agency which is subject to routine inspection and audit procedures established by the project.
(d) A project shall not include in any criminal intelligence system information which has been obtained in violation of any applicable Federal, State, or local law or ordinance. In an inter-jurisdictional intelligence system, the project is responsible for establishing that no information is entered in violation of Federal, State, or local laws, either through examination of supporting information submitted by a participating agency or by delegation of this responsibility to a properly trained participating agency which is subject to routine inspection and audit procedures established by the project.
(e) A project or authorized recipient shall disseminate criminal intelligence information only where there is a need to know and a right to know the information in the performance of a law enforcement activity.
(f) (1) Except as noted in paragraph (f) (2) of this section, a project shall disseminate criminal intelligence information only to law enforcement authorities who shall agree to follow procedures regarding information receipt, maintenance, security, and dissemination which are consistent with these principles. (2) Paragraph (f) (1) of this section shall not limit the dissemination of an assessment of criminal intelligence information to a government official or to any other individual, when necessary, to avoid imminent danger to life or property.
(g) A project maintaining criminal intelligence information shall ensure that administrative, technical, and physical safeguards (including audit trails) are adopted to insure against unauthorized access and against intentional or unintentional damage. A record indicating who has been given information, the reason for release of the information, and the date of each dissemination outside the project shall be kept. Information shall be labeled to indicate levels of sensitivity, levels of confidence, and the identity of submitting agencies and control officials. Each project must establish written definitions for the need to know and right to know standards for dissemination to other agencies as provided in paragraph (e) of this section. The project is responsible for establishing the existence of an inquirer’s need to know and right to know the information being requested either through inquiry or by delegation of this responsibility to a properly trained participating agency which is subject to routine inspection and audit procedures established by the project. Each intelligence project shall assure that the following security requirements are implemented: (1) Where appropriate, projects must adopt effective and technologically advanced computer software and hardware designs to prevent unauthorized access to the information contained in the system; (2) The project must restrict access to its facilities, operating environment and documentation to organizations and personnel authorized by the project; (3) The project must store information in the system in a manner such that it cannot be modified, destroyed, accessed, or purged without authorization; (4) The project must institute procedures to protect criminal intelligence information from unauthorized access, theft, sabotage, fire, flood, or other natural or manmade disaster; (5) The project must promulgate rules and regulations based on good cause for implementing its authority to screen, reject for employment, transfer, or remove personnel authorized to have direct access to the system; and (6) A project may authorize and utilize remote (off-premises) system data bases to the extent that they comply with these security requirements.
(h) All projects shall adopt procedures to assure that all information which is retained by a project has relevancy and importance. Such procedures shall provide for the periodic review of information and the destruction of any information which is misleading, obsolete or otherwise unreliable and shall require that any recipient agencies be advised of such changes which involve errors or corrections. All information retained as a result of this review must reflect the name of the reviewer, date of review and explanation of decision to retain. Information retained in the system must be reviewed and validated for continuing compliance with system submission criteria before the expiration of its retention period, which in no event shall be longer than five (5) years.
(i) If funds awarded under the Act are used to support the operation of an intelligence system, then: (1) No project shall make direct remote terminal access to intelligence information available to system participants, except as specifically approved by the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) based on a determination that the system has adequate policies and procedures in place to insure that it is accessible only to authorized systems users; and (2) A project shall undertake no major modifications to system design without prior grantor agency approval.
(j) A project shall notify the grantor agency prior to initiation of formal information exchange procedures with any Federal, State, regional, or other information systems not indicated in the grant documents as initially approved at time of award.
(k) A project shall make assurances that there will be no purchase or use in the course of the project of any electronic, mechanical, or other device for surveillance purposes that is in violation of the provisions of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986, Public Law 99-508, 18 U.S.C. 2510-2520, 2701-2709 and 3121-3125, or any applicable State statute related to wiretapping and surveillance.
(l) A project shall make assurances that there will be no harassment or interference with any lawful political activities as part of the intelligence operation.
(m) A project shall adopt sanctions for unauthorized access, utilization, or disclosure of
information contained in the system.
(n) A participating agency of an inter-jurisdictional intelligence system must maintain in its agency files information which documents each submission to the system and supports compliance with project entry criteria. Participating agency files supporting system submissions must be made available for reasonable audit and inspection by project representatives. Project representatives will conduct participating agency inspection and audit in such a manner so as to protect the confidentiality and sensitivity of participating agency intelligence records.
(o) The Attorney General or designee may waive, in whole or in part, the applicability of a particular requirement or requirements contained in this part with respect to a criminal intelligence system, or for a class of submitters or users of such system, upon a clear and convincing showing that such waiver would enhance the collection, maintenance or dissemination of information in the criminal intelligence system, while ensuring that such system would not be utilized in violation of the privacy and constitutional rights of individuals or any applicable state or federal law.
5 Funding guidelines.
The following funding guidelines shall apply to all Crime Control Act funded discretionary assistance awards and Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) formula grant program subgrants, a purpose of which is to support the operation of an intelligence system. Intelligence systems shall only be funded where a grantee/subgrantee agrees to adhere to the principles set forth above and the project meets the following criteria:
(a) The proposed collection and exchange of criminal intelligence information has been
coordinated with and will support ongoing or proposed investigatory or prosecutorial activities relating to specific areas of criminal activity.
(b) The areas of criminal activity for which intelligence information is to be utilized represent a significant and recognized threat to the population and: (1) Are either undertaken for the purpose of seeking illegal power or profits or pose a threat to the life and property of citizens; and (2) Involve a significant degree of permanent criminal organization; or (3) Are not limited to one jurisdiction.
(c) The head of a government agency or an individual with general policy making authority who has been expressly delegated such control and supervision by the head of the agency will retain control and supervision of information collection and dissemination for the criminal intelligence system. This official shall certify in writing that he or she takes full responsibility and will be accountable for the information maintained by and disseminated from the system and that the operation of the system will be in compliance with the principles set forth in 23.20.
(d) Where the system is an inter-jurisdictional criminal intelligence system, the governmental agency which exercises control and supervision over the operation of the system shall require that the head of that agency or an individual with general policymaking authority who has been expressly delegated such control and supervision by the head of the agency: (1) assume official responsibility and accountability for actions taken in the name of the joint entity, and (2) certify in writing that the official takes full responsibility and will be accountable for insuring that the information transmitted to the inter-jurisdictional system or to participating agencies will be in compliance with the principles set forth in 23.20. The principles set forth in 0 23.20 shall be made part of the by-laws or operating procedures for that system. Each participating agency, as a condition of participation, must accept in writing those principles which govern the submission, maintenance and dissemination of information included as part of the inter-jurisdictional system.
(e) Intelligence information will be collected, maintained and disseminated primarily for State and local law enforcement efforts, including efforts involving Federal participation.
6 Monitoring and auditing of grants for the funding of intelligence systems.
(a) Awards for the funding of intelligence systems will receive specialized monitoring and audit in accordance with a plan designed to insure compliance with operating principles as set forth in 23.20. The plan shall be approved prior to award of funds.
(b) All such awards shall be subject to a special condition requiring compliance with the
principles set forth in 23.20.
(c) An annual notice will be published by OJP which will indicate the existence and the objective of all systems for the continuing inter-jurisdictional exchange of criminal intelligence information which are subject to the 28 CFR Part 23 Criminal Intelligence Systems Policies.
Crime Tech Solutions is a leading provider of criminal intelligence database management software for 28 CFR Part 23 compliance. The company also develops Case Closed™ investigation case management software, sophisticated link analysis software, and advanced crime analytics.
Cloud computing for law enforcement, in simple terms, refers to software hosted off-agency and available to the user through their internet connection. This type of software-as-a-service, or “SaaS” offers several advantages over software that is hosted locally on the user’s hardware.
Computer hardware is always being tweaked and improved upon, and state-of-the-art equipment can become obsolete extremely quickly in this environment. Many vital pieces of software that law enforcement rely on can be extremely demanding of hardware resources. With cloud-based software solutions, the software and the hardware required to run it are maintained offsite. The agency users simply access the software through an internet browser on a computer or smart phone, and have access to all the functionality of the software with none of the costs or hassle involved in hosting locally. These costs also include maintenance and security.
Cloud-based solutions such as Case Closed Cloud also allow for software to be more portable, as the software can be easily and readily accessed by any user with a smart phone. In addition, compatibility across platforms becomes less of an issue, as the software only needs an internet browser to function. This means law enforcement officials can seamlessly move from using a MacBook at work, to their Windows Phone at lunch, to a Linux based PC at home, without having three separate installs with varying functionality.
Still, the major advantages of cloud-based software make it a powerful and very accessible tool for law enforcement. The simplicity and ease of access are defining characteristics of the cloud-based revolution.
Lost in the news of the recent demise of New Zealand based crime-fighting software developer Wynyard Group, is an interesting report published just weeks before the company ceased operations.
According to the study, just 55% of U.S. law enforcement agencies currently utilize investigative case management software (CMS), and the majority of users are unhappy with their current systems.
Thirty-seven percent of the study respondents are not currently using any type of automated system, and rely mainly on paper files and spreadsheets to manage their investigations.
Investigative case management software has long been the domain of larger agencies and departments, and is only now truly affordable for smaller departments. The software allows investigators to manage the investigation process from start to finish. The more robust software allows agencies to assign cases and tasks, manage deadlines, store and maintain physical and multimedia evidence, and to search for relevant information across disparate databases.
According to a press release issued at the time, the survey queried users on how likely they would be to recommend their current system to another agency. While most users were unhappy with their current investigative case management system, there was a clear difference between agencies using commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) software and those using home grown, legacy systems. The latter fared very poorly in the survey results.
The survey also measured the use of smart devices by front-line officers. Forty three percent indicated that they currently utilize smart phones and tablet computers, and 23% indicated they had neither device.
The most-desired features in investigative management software include:
- Management Dashboards
- Reports – Standard and ad hoc
- Case Assignment and Reminders
- Actions and Incident Management
- Mobile and Front-Line Case Access
- Evidence Management and Chain-of-Custody
- Multimedia Handling
- Audit Logs
- Gangs and Organized Crime Management
- Data Visualization and Link Analysis
- Case Closure / Evidence Brief
An investigative case management system for law enforcement and commercial investigation agencies is rapidly becoming a ‘must-have’. In an era of shrinking budgets and competing resources, a high value is placed on getting the biggest ‘bang for the buck’. The study indicates that agencies are looking to maximize the value of their investigative case management software by incorporating a robust feature set with an affordable price.
Case Closed Software, a division of Crime Tech Solutions, is a powerful and affordable investigative case management solution for law enforcement agencies. Case Closed is also available via the cloud with the innovative Case Closed Cloud. Created by former law enforcement investigators, the COTS software is designed with ease-of-use in mind. The software is deployed in agencies – large and small – across the country.
The following article originally appeared at In Public Safety, and is a highly recommended read. It was written by Erik Kleinsmith at American Military University.
Crime Tech Weekly is posting the article in its entirety for our readers’ convenience…
By Erik Kleinsmith
Staff, Intelligence Studies, American Military University
On November 24, 1971, a man using the name Dan Cooper purchased a $35 one-way airline ticket from Portland, Oregon, to Seattle, Washington. Not long after takeoff, he hijacked Northwest Orient Flight 305 and demanded $200,000 in cash along with two parachutes, which he received upon landing in Seattle. He then ordered the plane to take off and fly to Mexico City; during that flight, he jumped from the aircraft into the Oregon wilderness, securing his place as the only unsolved case in FAA history.
In early 2011, following a host of other investigations — both private and government-led — Tom Colbert picked up the trail of the man now known as D.B. Cooper. As an investigative reporter and producer living in Southern California, Colbert was tipped off by a source in the illicit drug trade who had credible — albeit circumstantial — evidence that D.B. Cooper was alive and living in California. Over the next few years, Colbert invested incredible amounts of time and personal resources toward tackling a 45-year-old mystery that so many other investigators before him had failed to solve.
A New Approach to Finding D.B. Cooper
Colbert assembled a large group of leading private investigators, detectives, attorneys, profilers and other subject matter experts into a group he called the “Cold Case Team.” He also knew he needed the expertise of intelligence professionals to help him organize and analyze all the evidence related to this case. While intelligence analysts almost always focus on using their skills for predictive analysis predictive analysis (i.e., what’s going to happen), Colbert knew having people proficient in intelligence collection and analysis would provide unique insight into a case that was decades old.
In December 2011, Colbert elicited my help while I was involved in an Army intelligence training contract. We had been associates and friends for a few years and he knew about my involvement in the Able Danger program. As a student, practitioner, developer and instructor of intelligence methodology, I was interested in his investigation because it was another chance for me to adapt intelligence analytical methods to a cold (very cold) case. I immediately agreed to support his efforts; he sent me a copy of a dossier on the man he suspected was D.B. Cooper.
It contained photos, maps, interview summaries and many other pieces of evidence connecting this man to the D.B. Cooper incident. Much of the initial information was secondhand and circumstantial, so Colbert was using it to provide further investigative leads for the Cold Case Team members.
Here is where I make my quick disclaimer: Collecting information on U.S. persons for intelligence purposes is prohibited by several federal regulations with very few specific exceptions. Even though I would be supporting a private investigation, I was working as a defense contractor at the time and therefore felt it was important to follow the spirit of these restrictions by creating products based only upon what the Cold Case Team provided. Neither myself nor my colleague independently searched for or collected any additional information for any part of this investigation.
That being said, it was an exceptional opportunity to use analytical intelligence techniques to assist in this investigation.
Using Link Analysis Techniques in the Investigation
In his meetings with various law enforcement officials, Colbert had grown frustrated that no one was taking the time to look through the dossier and consider the evidence. I gave it to one of my senior instructors, David D’Alessio, and asked him to make a link chart of associations using one of the best link analysis software programs available to us. A link chart is a graphic representation of the people, events, and significant items of interest (such as a bank account or address) associated with a particular subject. The key to these charts are the associations or “links” between each of the people, events and items in it.
Creating this chart was a painstaking process because D’Alessio had to go through each paragraph line by line, identify the relative linkages between entities and enter them into the software program. The initial link chart started with the main suspect and then drew graphic linkages to all his known associates their connections to third parties, and a host of other associations to events, locations, aliases and specific pieces of physical evidence. Working with D’Alessio and Colbert over several iterations of this chart, we ended up with a 3×2 foot poster that, to the untrained eye, looked a lot like charts shown in court or on television shows like Law and Order. There were hundreds of links to the main suspect, the many aliases he used over the years to include military records and associations that placed him in the vicinity of the Portland, Oregon area during the time of the hijacking.
The benefit of link analysis charts is that they do more than just show connections between entities. A link chart tells a comprehensive visual story and conveys a dynamic and detailed summary of information from the document supporting it. This technique proved immensely successful, as the visual representation helped capture attention and interest from outside parties.
How Intelligence Analysis Aided in the Investigation
Besides taking text-based information and turning it into a graphic visualization for presentation purposes, a link chart also helped the investigation in other ways. First, Colbert and his team were able to see gaps in the information where investigators needed to dig deeper. He could also see which links were strong and which were weak or tenuous. The team could then plan their investigations more effectively by identifying which gaps needed to be filled and prioritize how to best use their limited resources.
This chart also had a psychological value to the Cold Case Team. In 2013, one of the team’s private investigators presented it directly to the suspect and asked him to come forward. The hope was that once the suspect knew there was a vast amount of information on the identity of D.B. Cooper (not to mention it featured his picture right at the center). Revealing this chart helped Colbert enter into negotiations with the suspect’s lawyer and he came very close to a deal that would potentially involve an admission. Unfortunately, Colbert and the Cold Case Team were turned down at the last minute due to what we believe was his fear of being connected to other illicit activities.
Why Law Enforcement Must Partner More Often with Intelligence Agencies
Ultimately, this case demonstrates that intelligence analysis can play a crucial part in law enforcement investigations, both as a predictive asset as well as an investigative one. The D.B. Cooper investigation is decades old, but there are many other cases that are not. Other law enforcement agencies can use the techniques tested in this case to assist with other unsolved crimes, missing persons and patterns of criminal activity. It’s important for law enforcement authorities to remember that analysts in the intelligence field bring with them a toolkit that provides both unique and specialized analytical methods that can offer new perspectives. Bringing intelligence analysts into the fold of law enforcement can enhance a crime-solving team.
The federal government has awesome capabilities in intelligence collection and investigation but they are not alone. There is an equally awesome, yet untapped capability, in the commercial sector and among academia to support investigations like this and other more current cases. There are uncounted numbers of undergraduate and graduate students in criminal justice, data analysis and intelligence studies courses who would be eager to support a future case. In addition, there are also many retired law enforcement and intelligence professionals who would be eager to lend their experience and subject matter expertise to similar cases and problem sets, if only to satisfy the investigative bug still within them.
While the FBI officially closed its investigation in the D.B. Cooper case earlier this year, it has not been closed in the eyes of the Cold Case Team. This team continues to move forward with its own investigation, relying on intelligence analysis methods to support them and continue to evaluate every bit of evidence in new ways.
October 28, 2016 – Crime Tech Solutions, a fast-growing and vibrant investigation software company based in Austin, TX, today announced a migration path for software users affected by the recent failure of New Zealand based Wynyard Group. Wynyard had positioned itself as a ‘leader in crime fighting software’, but never did find traction in the markets they coveted.
Per Wynyard Group officials, the company has placed itself in voluntary administration as it battles crippling losses and missed revenue forecasts, leaving customers in the dark as to the future of their investment in the crime fighting technology.
For users of the Wynyard Group case management software, Crime Tech Solutions has introduced a comprehensive ‘path forward’ that includes, in some cases, a license-cost-free replacement of the Wynyard Group system with the popular and robust Case Closed™ investigative case management solution for law enforcement and commercial investigation agencies.
Case Closed Software was developed by investigation professionals and for investigation professionals, and is widely used by investigative agencies across North America.
“The objective”, said Crime Tech Solutions’ CTO Keith Weigand, “is to provide Case Closed software licenses to interested customers in exchange for the monies they already pay in annual maintenance and support.”
Tyler Wood, Operations Manager at Crime Tech Solutions, added “In essence, it’s a way to put what we think is better case management software into customers’ hands without the need to pay for expensive new software licenses.” While Wood acknowledges that there are internal costs associated with converting to any new solution, he feels that the intuitive and flexible nature of Case Closed is designed to mitigate those costs as much as possible.
About Crime Tech Solutions
Crime Tech Solutions is a low price / high performance innovator in crime analytics and law enforcement crime-fighting software. The clear price/performance leader for crime fighting software, the company’s offerings include Case Closed™ investigative case management and major case management, GangBuster™ gang intelligence software, powerful Sentinel Visualizer 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.
The backbone of any functioning criminal intelligence unit is the strength of its intel files and/or gang records. Best practices for gang intelligence suggests that agencies should regularly update and contribute gang intelligence to a specialized gang intelligence system (aka gang database). These intelligence systems can manage and store thousands or millions of records of gangs, their activities, and their members.
With gang intelligence software, authorized users may read and update specific files, search and retrieve photos/videos/audio, and generally utilize the solution to assist investigation efforts. An example of some attributes stored within a gang intelligence system are:
- Marks and Scars
Properly utilized, the gang intelligence system should allow the collection, analysis, storage and retrieval of data that qualifies as criminal intelligence. The data should only be disseminated to agency members with a specific need, and that need should be logged as part of the dissemination.
Gang Intelligence Integrity
With a gang intelligence database, agencies must preserve the integrity of the system through security and access restriction from unauthorized users – internal and external – because of constitutional protection for individuals whose personal information is contained within the system.
Importantly, for gang intelligence, a rigid purging process must be adhered to as this ensures the integrity and credibility of the data. If, for example, a record has not been reviewed or appended for a period of five years, best practices suggest that the record be purged.
Access governance is also critical to gang intelligence systems to ensure integrity of the data entered and maintained and, importantly, to comply with applicable regional, state, and federal laws.
Gang / Criminal Intelligence and U.S. Law
The United States Constitution prohibits the criminalization of mere membership in a gang (or other similar organization). There is nothing illegal about being a gang member, according to our country’s laws. However, it is perfectly legal for agencies to add gang members to the database even if no crime has been committed by that member.
The tracking and storage of this data is widely criticized, however. Opponents suggest that agencies are profiling or targeting groups that are not engaged in criminal activities, and/or installing a ‘guilt by association’ mentality by tracking those members.
Conversely, advocates of gang intelligence database systems know that law enforcement has a legitimate interest in monitoring the individuals and groups engaged in ‘group criminal behavior’.
The back-and-forth between sides creates tension between the rights of society to be protected by law enforcement, and the individual privacy expectations of gang members.
CFR 28 Part 23
The result of these competing interests is something called Code of Federal Regulations, Title 28, Part 23 (CFR 28 Part 23) which details the requirements for gathering, entering, storing, and disseminating information about individuals and organizations (gangs) into an intelligence system.
28 CFR Part 23 was designed as a regulation specific to multi-jurisdictional intelligence systems that have received federal grant funds for the development or purchase of the gang database. It is, however, an excellent guide for individual agencies, as the regulation attempts to fairly balance the intelligence needs of law enforcement against individual privacy requirements. In other words, it helps agencies get their jobs done without violating individual rights.
Compliance with 28 CFR Part 23 in Gang Intelligence
Gang and criminal intelligence data is defined within 28 CFR Part 23 as “data which has been evaluated to determine that:
A) it is relevant to the identification of, and the criminal activity engaged in by, an individual who – or an organization which – is reasonably suspected of involvement in criminal activity, and
B) meets criminal intelligence system submission criteria”
The ‘submission criteria’ is essentially the basis for something to be entered into the gang intelligence system. The criteria include the following:
- A reasonable suspicion that an individual is relevant to the criminal activity
- Prospective information to be entered is relevant to the criminal activity
- Information does not include data related to political, religious, or social views unless that information related directly to the criminal activity that formed the basis for focus on the gang or group
- Information was not obtained in violation of any federal, state, or local law or ordinance
- Information establishes sufficient facts to give trained law enforcement officials a basis to believe that an individual or gang/organization is involved in a definable criminal activity
As referenced above, 28 CFR Part 23 also indicates that information contained within a compliant database or criminal intelligence system must be reviewed and evaluated for relevance and importance every five years. Data that is deemed to be irrelevant and unimportant should be purged from the system. This is true even if the data is discovered to be noncompliant before five years.
Perhaps the most important element of a gang database system complying with 28 CFR Part 23 is that no information whatsoever from the database should be disseminated without a legitimate law enforcement reason, such as criminal investigation cases and charges being filed against a suspect.
If managing a gang intelligence system seems intimidating, it ought not be. If an agency desires to comply with 28 CFR Part 23, the rules for managing such as system are clearly spelled out. If an agency simply wants to collect and manage data outside of the federal guidelines – and has not accepted federal grant monies for such a program – they are free to do so as long as the system meets the security and ‘common sense’ guidelines that protect an individual’s right to privacy.
About the Author
Tyler Wood is Operations Director of Austin, TX based Crime Tech Solutions (www.crimetechsolutions.com). The company develops and deploys low price / high performance software for law enforcement including Case Closed™ investigative case management software, sophisticated Sentinel Visualizer™ link analysis and data visualization software, and CrimeMap Pro™ advanced crime analytics. The company also develops the popular GangBuster™ gang database, and IntelNexus™ criminal intelligence software for 28 CFR Part 23 compliance.
Great article from PoliceMag.com, originally posted HERE.
Since its introduction nearly a decade ago, big data in the form of analytics has helped police agencies all over the world enhance decision making, improve strategies to combat crime, and ultimately solve—and prevent—more crimes. But while the benefits of mining and critically analyzing huge amounts of data are being realized in other developed countries from the United Kingdom to Canada to New Zealand, U.S. law enforcement agencies have generally been slower to jump on the bandwagon.
The reasons for slower adoption of big data tools in the United States are as varied as the nearly 18,000 state and local law enforcement agencies around the country. For many, the decision to buy or not to buy advanced crime analytics software often comes down to the usual culprit: lack of money. With few exceptions, police agencies across the country are faced with the prospect of doing more with less. And with increased pressure on local departments to put more feet on the street, do more in terms of community policing, and divert funding to equip all officers with body cams, it’s often hard for departments to make big data solutions a top priority.
Money, however, is not the only issue slowing analytics adoption in the U.S. Unlike countries such as the U.K., the American law enforcement community is decentralized. It does not have a single system of data, standards, and operations. Rather, police departments here pride themselves on their individuality and independence. Walk into a meeting where 10 different departments are represented and you will likely see 10 different colors of uniforms.
The same holds true when it comes to information sharing. While it is often assumed that police departments all work in close cooperation with each other, the reality may be quite different.
None of this is news, nor is it a criticism of U.S. police departments. It simply reflects Americans’ independent nature and the way in which law enforcement in this country is structured. It’s the thing that makes us great but, in the case of analytics, it’s also a major factor slowing analytics adoption.
Big data adoption is also hampered by the sheer size of the U.S. Sure, from a pure geographic standpoint, the U.S. and Canada are similar in size. But most of Canada’s people live in Ontario or on the West Coast, near Vancouver. There are just over 200 police departments in all of Canada. Compare that to the U.S., where there are huge differences in the make-up of the population, not to mention lifestyle, attitudes, and so much more between, say, the Southwest and the Northeast.
Law enforcement policy-makers on the East Coast don’t know what to make of their counterparts on the West Coast and vice versa. Similarly, the day-to-day needs and demands placed on a police chief in Kansas City can’t help but be very different from those of his or her peers in Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle, or Philadelphia.
All of these factors have contributed to slowing the adoption of analytics by U.S. police agencies. They are also complicated by perhaps the most intangible impediment: fear of technology. Whether they like to admit it or not, some law enforcement leaders are more comfortable taking an “old school” approach to police work. They prefer business as usual, which means feet on the street and files stacked on their detectives’ desks, not sleek, state-of-the-art technology.
Change is never easy, especially when tried-and-true policing methods have proven to be effective. Decentralization also plays a part here – it’s easier to take technology risks when it’s mandated from above and much harder for the nearly 18,000 law enforcement chiefs in the U.S. to each take a step into the unknown. Nevertheless, change is coming, spurred in large part by the fact that the cost of advanced crime analytics is coming down.
Also easing the impact of costs to local agencies will be the dollars for big data solutions coming from the federal government. Those funds come with a catch, however, that gets at another obstacle. A significant portion of federal funds in the future will be earmarked for supporting regional initiatives. That means to be eligible for federal funds, many departments will have no choice but to work with their colleagues across jurisdictional boundaries. And while that may bring some initial resistance, regional cooperation will inevitably help to promote not just data sharing, but overall effectiveness.
The public is also demanding increased police effectiveness and efficiency. Responding to that pressure, police chiefs are recognizing that big data solutions can have a huge impact on reducing the number of man-hours it takes to sift through mountains of data in order to solve crimes. This is particularly important as law enforcement finds itself confronting not only the standard array of home break-ins, car thefts, and the like, but also the threat of “lone wolf” terrorist attacks, cybercrime, and highly sophisticated international trafficking rings.
Fortunately, as analytics software has become more affordable, it has also become easier to use. No longer the exclusive domain of the IT department, newer big data solutions are now designed to be used by front line analysts and investigators, with just one or two days of training and without the need for sophisticated oversight.
This has dramatically changed the role of law enforcement analysts. Formerly the department statistician, today’s analyst has become a critically important member of the crime fighting team, capable of rapidly moving from tactical analysis to the focal point of providing intelligence on high-profile crimes and strategic crime-fighting initiatives.
Ease of use also comes into play as a new generation of officers, many of whom were raised on Google and Xbox, begin to take on leadership roles in their departments. These individuals are used to having the latest technology at their immediate disposal. They will readily see that a big data solution can not only play a critical role in more effective policing, but also pay for itself in savings of both time and money.
The growing use of cloud computing plays a role in this equation. Storing data in the cloud is becoming accepted as safe and secure, bringing with it economic advantages and removing the need for departments to provide highly specialized IT staff and infrastructure previously required to support analytical solutions.
All of these factors are combining to change the face of effective policing in the U.S. That will mean significantly greater acceptance of analytics to mine everything from social media files, emails, text messages, and the content of police RMS systems to phone records, license plate reader data, and ballistics data. Efficiencies of scale will dictate greater cooperation among departments, resulting in increased efficiency and more effective policing. Being able to quickly search and find critical information in data that police agencies already have in hand will undoubtedly improve decision making and officer safety, while helping to solve cases more quickly.
Crime Tech Solutions, who earlier this year acquired TN based Case Closed Software, delivers unique value to customers with comprehensive investigative case management software, sophisticated link analysis tools, criminal intelligence management software, and crime mapping technology that includes some of the industry’s best analytics and reporting capabilities.