Tag Archives: major case management

Managing Major Cases Part Four: Operational Structures

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

Managing Major Cases: Part One

Managing Major Cases: Part Two

Managing Major Cases: Part Three

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

The Command Triangle

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

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

MCMT

 

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

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

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

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

The Command Triangle vs. The Major Case Framework

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

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

So, what is the Major Case Framework?

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Doug4Douglas Wood is CEO of Crime Technology Solutions | Case Closed Software, a leading provider of serious investigation software to law enforcement, state bureaus, DA offices, and other investigative units. Doug can be reached directly HERE.

 

Managing Major Cases Part 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.

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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.

 

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

Video: Best Practices for Criminal Investigation Management

Sponsored by Case Closed Software, this 25 minute video features author and former law enforcement official Daniel McDevitt as he overviews some of the best practices developed over his 40+ year career in criminal investigations.
Daniel is the author of Managing The Investigation Unit, and Major Case Management, and is recognized across the country as a leading expert in this field.
Grab a coffee, sit back, and watch the video HERE on YouTube.

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.

Gang Database leads to Arrest

2017-04-17-image-2El Paso, TX – Gang investigators were told a suspect in surveillance footage matched the description of “Flaco”, a known gang member in the area.
A search of a gang database identified “Flaco” as 32 year old Fidel Trevino, a court document states.

See the original story HERE at kvia.com
Crime Tech Solutions develops and markets the industry leading GangBuster™ gang tracking software for law enforcement. The company offers a suite of crime-fighting software including case management, link analysis, criminal intelligence management, and advanced crime analytics.

Tennessee county turns to Case Closed for investigation management

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

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.

wynyardfailPer 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.

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“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

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Case Closed Software is developed and supported by fast-growing 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 managementmobile applications for law enforcement, comprehensive crime analytics with mapping and predictive policing, and 28 CFR Part 23 compliant criminal intelligence database management systems.