"The mobility of our criminals is an increasing concern," says Jason Moen, deputy chief of the Auburn (Maine) Police Department. "We have had criminals go on multi-county crime sprees, which can be difficult for an officer to track."
A CAD and RMS service company took this issue under its wing when it decided to look into whether small- and medium-sized agencies could link these applications across agencies at a low cost.
That's how Information Management Corp. came up with its answer: Cross Agency Data Sharing.
Information Management Corp. (IMC) had successfully delivered CAD, RMS and related solutions to law enforcement for years. Now it's new application, Cross Agency Data Sharing. Cross Agency connects IMC customers, their case reports and master names lists using each member department's existing IMC databases. This way, rather than rely on a centralized data repository, agencies can implement the solution with low overhead.
"A cross-agency search can track a suspect to different parts of the state if that suspect has had police contact," Moen says.
Cross Agency Data Sharing also allows real-time access to information on whether subjects had contact with other agencies. Officers can see immediately when a name check shows previous offenses, warrants or arrests involving violence or weapons. This is crucial to officer safety, which Mark Pacheco, chief of police in Dartmouth, Mass., says drove the initial decision to try to get agencies integrated. "In one jurisdiction, an officer made a traffic stop on a speeding vehicle," he says. "The officer queried the Cross Agency system and found out the offender was wanted in a neighboring jurisdiction on a domestic violence charge, which had been brought less than an hour previously. He never would've known that otherwise, and he was able to call for backup and make the arrest."
How it works
Cross Agency operates on a "hub and spoke" system. One department, usually the one with the best connection, hosts the server or the "hub." The others connect as spokes and do not connect directly to each other.
The "best connection" is a matter of what Leo Hisoire, IMC director of engineering and interim general manager, calls "a solid network infrastructure with quality hardware and good bandwidth." This includes a variety of network types: The state criminal justice information services (CJIS) network, or virtual private networks (VPN) built upon secure broadband cable TV or DSL, or frame relay of at least 56K in speed. (Smaller agencies' VPNs on wireless modem connections can also be used.)
Cross Agency is one module in IMC's product family, but it does not require the other modules to work. In fact, Cross Agency can be implemented in just a few steps:
• Develop policies on what data to share, how to use it, and any restrictions. Memorandums of understanding (MOUs) make these shared policies.
• Choose the hub agency.
• Set up a secure Internet protocol (IP) connection between each spoke agency and the hub. If agencies use the state CJIS, this security is already built in.
• Install IMC Mobile software on each agency's computers so individual officers may run their own queries. (Though this is not strictly necessary, as dispatch can still facilitate queries.)
IMC Cross Agency is installed in 150 agencies in the United States. Although the hubs are not currently linked, Pacheco says this is planned for the future in Massachusetts. "IMC data-sharing technology utilizes IP communications, so state-to-state data sharing is theoretically possible," says Hisoire. More than 760 IMC customers exist, primarily in New England, though the company also has customers in Montana, New Jersey and Florida.
Cross Agency at work