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Proceedings Paper

Sharing information among existing data sources
Author(s): W. Ross Ashley III
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Paper Abstract

The sharing of information between law enforcement agencies is a premise for the success of all jurisdictions. A wealth of information resides in both the databases and infrastructures of local, state, and regional agencies. However, this information is often not available to the law enforcement professionals who require it. When the information is, available, individual investigators must not only know that it exists, but where it resides, and how to retrieve it. In many cases, these types of cross-jurisdictional communications are limited to personal relationships that result from telephone calls, faxes, and in some cases, e-mail. As criminal elements become more sophisticated and distributed, law enforcement agencies must begin to develop infrastructures and common sharing mechanisms that address a constantly evolving criminal threat. Historically, criminals have taken advantage of the lack of communication between law enforcement agencies. Examples of this are evident in the search for stolen property and monetary dealings. Pawned property, cash transactions, and failure to supply child support are three common cross- jurisdictional crimes that could be better enforced by strengthening the lines of communication. Criminal behavior demonstrates that it is easier to profit from their actions by dealing in separate jurisdictions. For example, stolen property is sold outside of the jurisdiction of its origin. In most cases, simply traveling a short distance to the adjoining county or municipality is sufficient to ensure that apprehension of the criminal or seizure of the stolen property is highly unlikely. In addition to the traditional burglar, fugitives often sell or pawn property to finance their continued evasion from the law. Sharing of information in a rapid manner would increase the ability of law enforcement personnel to track and capture fugitives, as well as criminals. In an example to combat this threat, the State of Florida recently acted on the need to share crucial investigative information across jurisdictional bounds by establishing a communications infrastructure for all of its law enforcement jurisdictions. The Criminal Justice Network (CJ-Net) is a statewide TCP/IP network, dedicated to the sharing of law enforcement information. CJ-Net is managed and maintained by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) and provides open access and privileges to any criminal justice agency, including the state court and penitentiary systems. In addition to Florida, other states, such as North Carolina, are also beginning to implement common protocol communication infrastructures and architectures in order to link local jurisdictions together throughout the state. The law enforcement domain in an optimum situation for information-sharing technologies. Communication infrastructures are continually established, and as such, action is required to effectively use these networks to their full potential. Information technologies that are best suited for the law enforcement domain, must be evaluated and implemented in a cost-effective manner. Unlike the Defense Department and other large federal agencies, individual jurisdictions at both the local and state level cannot afford to expend limited resources on research and development of prototype systems. Therefore, we must identify enabling technologies that have matured in related domains and transition them into law enforcement at a minimum cost. Crucial to this measure, is the selection of the appropriate levels of information-sharing technologies to be inserted. Information-sharing technologies that are unproven or have extensive recurring costs are not suitable for this domain. Information-sharing technologies traditionally exist between two distinct polar bounds: the data warehousing approach and mediation across distributed heterogeneous data sources. These two ends of the spectrum represent extremely different philosophies in accomplishing the same goal. In the following sections of this paper, discussions of information-sharing mechanisms will be addressed and the effectiveness of each is examined for the law enforcement domain. In each case, it is the opinion of the author as to which approach would lend itself to the most appropriate solution to the problem of effectively sharing criminal justice information.

Paper Details

Date Published: 7 January 1999
PDF: 6 pages
Proc. SPIE 3577, Sensors, C3I, Information, and Training Technologies for Law Enforcement, (7 January 1999);
Show Author Affiliations
W. Ross Ashley III, ISX Corp. (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 3577:
Sensors, C3I, Information, and Training Technologies for Law Enforcement
Edward M. Carapezza; David B. Law, Editor(s)

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